A former Houston banker and his stepmother were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution for managing a scheme where they employed credit cards with high limits to progress cash to shareholders to purchase in the family’s real estate job — for a commission, the U.S. Attorney’s office stated.
Carlos Wydler, 49, has been sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, as stated by the U.S. Attorney’s office. His stepmother, Leyla Wydler, 60, has been sentenced in June to 11 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office stated.
They had been ordered to pay over $6 million in restitution.
They had been convicted by a jury in 2017 after a four-week trial, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. During sentencing hearings, the CEO of Carlos Wydler’s bank testified that the scheme resulted the largest fraud loss in the bank’s 113-year history, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation worked together in the investigation.
On HoustonChronicle.com: Pair heading to prison over bank fraud scheme
“Although the Wydlers did not wield weapons or threaten tellers, they endangered the stability of the federal banking system and our economy,” said Perrye K. Turner, the Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge. “The FBI prioritizes financial institution fraud because it is not a victimless crime.”
The Wydlers’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Carlos Wydler went to work in 2007 for Farmers and Merchants Bank of Long Beach, a California bank, according to court records. He was in charge of the bank’s credit card department.
His stepmother, Leyla Wydler was a licensed real estate agent in Texas, according to court records. She owned several Houston-area businesses including the Globan Mortgage Co.
Not long following Carlos Wydler got his banking position, as stated by court documents, the pair developed a system in which Leyla Wydler sent credit card applications to the bank. Two eyewitnesses testified she often used false income information for the applications, said the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Carlos Wydler approved the fraudulent requests, awarding them credit cards with high credit lines, but the cards were rarely, if ever, issued, according to court documents. Instead, the entire credit line was converted into cash and forwarded on to the borrowers, some of whom were investors in a real estate project in Houston the Wydlers were developing at the time, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Leyla Wydler then took a fee from the loans, skimming as much as $1.4 million, according to court papers.
But more than half of the Texas borrowers approved through the plot defaulted on their loans, causing Farmers and Merchants Bank of Long Beach to lose more than $6 million.
The Wydlers’ attorneys attempted to convince the jury that Carlos Wydler did not break the bank’s policies from his approval decisions and that Leyla Wydler did not know that the information she was sending contained falsified information, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The jury convicted the family members of multiple counts including conspiracy, bank fraud, false statements on credit applications, wire fraud and mail fraud.
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“Greed and deception were at the heart of the Wydler’s scheme, which took advantage of their positions of trust within the banking system,” stated Adrian Gonzalez, inspector responsible for this U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in a statement.
Includes preceding reporting by L.M. Sixel.