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Ex-Bude banker pleads guilty to fraud, money laundering

JACKSON — A former Bude banker pleaded guilty Monday to stealing between $600,000 and $1 million from the bank he was paid to lead.

Larry Barnette Hill, 58, of Meadville, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering charges, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis’ office announced in a news release.

Hill’s plea agreement comes just one week after the charges were filed against him.

Hill served as CEO of People’s Bank of the South, headquartered in Bude with branches in Meadville and Gloster.

From 2004 through 2012, Hill fraudulently withdrew money from the bank’s payroll account and deposited those funds into the bank accounts of his family members and into a “shell” bank account he created for his personal benefit and the benefit of others.

Hill also used the bank’s credit card for personal expenses without the bank’s authorization, and took third-party checks issued in the name of People’s Bank to make payments on a personal loan that he held at another bank and to embezzle funds into other accounts he owned and controlled for his own benefit or the benefit of others.

Hill concealed his fraudulent activities by creating false general ledger tickets that appeared to be for bank expenses in order to disguise his fraudulent activities within the bank’s budget.

He also falsely inflated the bank’s budget each month in order to disguise additional money he was embezzling.

The total amount of loss is still being calculated, but is estimated to be from $600,000 to over $1 million.

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee will sentence Hill on July 11.

Hill faces a maximum penalty on the bank fraud charge of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine, and 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for the money laundering.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.