Bodeya Tweh reports:
A former Mason resident and U.S. Bank official is accused of taking expensive cigars and thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for steering bank business to a debt collection company.
Wilbur Tate III appeared Wednesday before a U.S. magistrate judge in Bridgeport, Conn., to answer a federal criminal complaint that charges him with conspiracy to commit bank bribery.
Tate, 48, was arrested Feb. 27 in Georgia, where he now lives, and posted a $50,000 bond, said Tom Carson, spokesman for Connecticut District U.S. Attorney David Fein. The case is being heard in Connecticut because the initial complaint was filed in that state against an executive of New York-based Oxford Collection Agency.
Tate was an assistant vice president for U.S. Bank in Ohio between 2004 and 2011. He was in charge of outsourcing collection accounts to firms including Oxford Collection Agency.
Authorities say between 2007 and 2011, Oxford executives sought to defraud the company’s lender, a Connecticut-based bank, as well as its investors, clients and commercial debtors. Authorities also said executives bribed bank officials to retain business.
Tate and six others are facing charges as part of the investigation. Five people have pleaded guilty; one has been sentenced so far.
Authorities say Oxford executives bribed Tate with boxes of expensive cigars and monthly cash payments hidden in cigar boxes. Individual payments were between $2,500 and $5,000 and were mailed directly to Tate’s home in Mason. The executives provided the bribes between August 2008 and October 2010, the federal complaint said.
Tom Joyce, spokesman for U.S. Bank parent U.S. Bancorp, confirmed that Tate was a former employee and said the company will cooperate with authorities. He declined further comment.
A message left Thursday with Tate’s court-appointed public defender in Atlanta was not returned.
Tate was hired at Tecmer Inc. in February 2011, a Lawrenceville, Ga.-based firm, as vice president of operations, according to a news release on the company’s website. A representative from the company declined comment Thursday.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division, the FBI, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force were part of the investigation into the matter.