Indictment on Multi-Million Bank Fraud Scheme carries local interest

MONROE, La. –A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Charlie L. Simpson, 48, of Downsville, who worked as Chief Operating Officer of United Home Care, Inc. (“United”) and Trinity Home Health Care, Inc. (“Trinity”),and Charles R. Gardner, 53, of West Monroe, who worked as Chief Financial Officer/Controller of United and Trinity. Simpson and Gardner were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud, announced Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook.

The indictment alleges that from April 2016 until March 2017, Simpson and Gardner were involved in a scheme to defraud Origin Bank, Peoples Bank, and Louisiana National Bank (“LNB”) by fraudulently obtaining money and credits from the three banks. It is alleged that Simpson and Gardner orchestrated and executed a check kite between accounts at Origin Bank and LNB where in they deposited hundreds of checks between multiple accounts they controlled at both banks and took advantage of the float when they passed the checks, timing the exchanges to artificially inflate the account balances. In so doing, Simpson and Gardner caused Origin Bank and LNB to honor checks and payments drawn against accounts with insufficient funds and put the financial institutions at risk.

The indictment further alleges that on March 8, 2017, Simpson learned that accounts under his control at LNB had an overdraft and the bank would only accept a certified check to cover the deficit. To cover the overdraft and prevent the kite from collapsing, Simpson and Gardner allegedly added a third bank, Peoples Bank, into the scheme by issuing over 20 checks for approximately $4 million drawn from different accounts at that bank and deposited them into multiple accounts at Origin Bank. However, the accounts used at Peoples Bank did not have sufficient funds to cover the checks deposited into Origin Bank. In fact, the accounts at Peoples Bank had less than $2,000 available. The following day, March 9, 2017,the defendants used the artificially inflated balances to obtain four certified checks totaling $2.1million from Origin Bank and deposited them into different accounts at LNB to cover the overdraft. Origin Bank suffered a financial loss when it discovered that Simpson and Gardner had used the inflated accounts to obtain certified funds.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The FBI is conducting this investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon H. Whitten is prosecuting the case. Whitten is the grandson of former Jonesboro residents, Jatis and Leon Whitten, who served Jackson Parish for nearly three decades as District Attorney and District Judge. 

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