(The Center Square) – A New Orleans grand jury has charged a former St. Bernard Parish assistant district attorney and two associates with bank fraud and money laundering offenses.
The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Duane Evans, the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
According to a 19-count indictment filed late last week, Glenn Diaz and accomplices Peter Jenevein of Panama City, Florida, and Mark Grelle of Charlotte, North Carolina, are accused of conspiring to defraud First NBC Bank through a series of fraudulent invoices in 2016.
The invoices pertained to a Florida warehouse Diaz owned, and they purported to show property improvements.
Diaz was the longtime lead prosecutor for former St. Bernard Parish District Attorney Jack Rowley. Diaz unsuccessfully ran for Rowley’s vacated seat in 2014.
The New Orleans-based First NBC Bank failed in 2017. The same U.S. Attorney’s Office indicted three former bank executives last year, including CEO Ashton Ryan of Jefferson Parish, as part of a long running investigation into the bank’s $5 billion collapse.
Diaz, Jenevein and Grelle are charged in each of the 19 counts of Monday’s indictment; none is related to the bank’s failure.
The indictment stated Diaz began overdrawing his First NBC checking account in late 2015 for purported business expenses, though he allegedly was depositing the overdrafts into his personal account at another bank.
In April 2016, First NBC Bank officers began asking Diaz for information about the use of the overdrafts, the indictment said. Two months later, bank officers began requiring invoices as proof Diaz was spending bank funds on improving the Florida warehouse.
Diaz and Jenevein provided invoices for warehouse work from Grelle’s company, Grelle Underground Services LLC, which resulted in the bank’s approval of Diaz’s overdrafts.
“However, after Diaz wrote the check to Grelle’s company, Grelle would then write a check back to Diaz, which Diaz would deposit into his personal account at JPMorgan Chase bank,” a U.S. Attorney statement said.
Investigators cited 17 transactions in the federal indictment, totaling $345,841 in allegedly defrauded funds.
“The FBI remains committed to investigating those who engage in white collar crimes that impact our financial institutions,” said Douglas Williams, a New Orleans FBI special agent.
“We will vigorously pursue any wrongdoers whose fraudulent actions impact the safety and soundness of financial institutions regulated by the Federal Reserve Board,” said Stephen Donnelly, a federal reserve investigator.
A statement from Evans emphasized an indictment is “merely an accusation” and guilt must be proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If convicted Diaz, Jenevein and Grelle could receive up to 20 years in prison for the money laundering charges and 30 years in prison for bank fraud.