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First NBC Bank failed in April 2017, resulting in a $1 billion cleanup making it the costliest failure of an American bank since the height of the 2008-2010 financial crisis.

The former top lawyer for First NBC Bank is expected to plead guilty next month to conspiring to defraud the New Orleans bank that collapsed in 2017. 

A document filed Monday in New Orleans federal court shows that Gregory St. Angelo, the former chief counsel of First NBC Bank, is due to appear in front of U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier on May 30 for a rearraignment hearing — a type of proceeding where defendants typically reverse not-guilty pleas as part of a deal with prosecutors.

St. Angelo, 54, who is out on a $1 million unsecured bond, pleaded not guilty on March 29 to a bill of information charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The fact that prosecutors charged St. Angelo in a bill of information, rather than a grand jury indictment, suggested that he was cooperating with the investigation into the failed bank and would likely plead guilty without a trial.

In March, prosecutors outlined what they said was a scheme by St. Angelo and other top First NBC executives to obtain more than $52 million in loans and tax credits by filing false documents and lending the bank's funds to front companies.

Former First NBC President and CEO Ashton Ryan and former Chief Credit Officer Bill Burnell haven’t been charged, though it is clear they are a focus for federal investigators, who referred to the former executives as “Bank President A” and “Bank Officer B” in the document charging St. Angelo.

The rearraignment will likely provide the fullest details yet about St. Angelo's role in the bank’s collapse, who else may be implicated and what terms he may have been offered in return for any plea.

One of St. Angelo’s attorneys, Peter Thomson, declined to discuss the case Monday. Thomson only reiterated prior statements that his client is cooperating with U.S. Attorney Peter Strasser’s office and other federal investigators.

Based on the charges against him, St. Angelo could face decades in prison and a fine of more than $1 million if convicted at a trial.

While St. Angelo is the first former First NBC employee to face charges following the bank’s $1 billion failure, a Slidell contractor named Jeffrey Dunlap pleaded guilty in October to federal bank fraud charges for his hand in the collapse, the largest in the U.S. since the 2008 financial crisis.

Dunlap’s sentencing was scheduled for Friday, but the proceeding — already postponed once — was pushed back to July 31.

Staff writer Tony McAuley contributed to this report. 


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.