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Two Real Estate Developers Convicted of Conspiring to Embezzle Millions From the Failed Washington Federal Bank in Chicago

CHICAGO — A federal jury in Chicago has convicted two real estate developers of participating in a conspiracy that embezzled millions of dollars from the failed Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Chicago.

Washington Federal, which was based in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, was shut down in 2017 after the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency determined that the bank was insolvent and had at least $66 million in nonperforming loans.  For more than a decade, developers MIROSLAW KREJZA and MAREK MATCZUK were part of a conspiracy that embezzled millions of dollars in bank funds.  The embezzled funds were disguised as purported real estate development loan disbursements to Krejza, Matczuk, and others.  The conspirators were not required to repay these purported loans, and they never did.

Krejza, 65, of Chicago, and Matczuk, 60, of Park Ridge, Ill., were convicted Friday of conspiring to commit embezzlement and falsify bank records, as well as aiding and abetting embezzlement by bank employees.  The jury returned the verdicts after a three-week trial in federal court in Chicago.  U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall did not immediately set sentencing dates.

The convictions were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Vincent R. Zehme, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General; Machelle L. Jindra, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General in Chicago; Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Chicago; Catherine Huber, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Central Region of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General; Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; Andrea Peacock, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of the Treasury, Office of Inspector General; Deborah Witzburg, City of Chicago Inspector General; and Kathryn B. Richards, Chicago Housing Authority Inspector General.  Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Trustee Program and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Petersen, Kristin Pinkston, and Brian Netols, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Snell.

The federal investigation into the collapse of Washington Federal led to criminal charges against 16 defendants, including the bank’s Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer, and other high-ranking employees, for conspiring to embezzle at least $31 million in bank funds.   Krejza, Matczuk, and two others were convicted after jury trials, while ten defendants pleaded guilty and two entered into deferred prosecution agreements. 

Much of the embezzled money was transferred to Chicago attorney ROBERT M. KOWALSKI and other individuals outside the bank without all of the required documentation and often without any documentation whatsoever.  A jury earlier this year convicted Robert Kowalski on bankruptcy fraud, bank embezzlement, and false statement charges.  His sentencing is set for Jan. 23, 2024.   Robert Kowalski’s sister, JAN R. KOWALSKI, also an attorney, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in June to more than three years in prison for fraudulently enabling her brother to conceal more than $357,000 from creditors and the trustee in his bankruptcy case.

Last month, three former members of Washington Federal’s Board of Directors pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsify bank records to deceive the OCC.  WILLIAM M. MAHON, GEORGE F. KOZDEMBA, and JANICE M. WESTON will be sentenced in December.

Last year, Chicago attorney PATRICK D. THOMPSON was convicted of making false statements to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. regarding the amount of money he received from Washington Federal via a purported loan and other unsecured payments.  Thompson was also convicted of filing tax returns in which he falsely deducted interest that he had not actually paid to Washington Federal.

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