″Fallen Angel” Banker Gets 3( Years for Fraud, Tax Evasion
NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal judge on Friday sentenced a former Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. official to 3 1/2 years in prison for stealing millions from the bank and Brazilian depositors while evading income taxes.
″You are indeed a Lucifer, a fallen angel of the banking world,″ U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet of Manhattan told Antonio Gebauer, before handing the Venezuelan national the jail term and a $100,000 fine.
Last October, the Colombian-born Gebauer, 46, pleaded guilty to one count each of bank fraud and income tax evasion and two counts of making false bank statements.
He admitted defrauding Morgan and four wealthy Brazilian depositors of $4.3 million and evading taxes on $3.4 million in income from his illegal dealings.
Gebauer could have been sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison and fines totalling $355,000 - as well as payment of back taxes.
″Why you embarked on this voyage of disaster, only you can determine,″ Sweet told Gebauer, who headed Morgan’s Latin American lending operations between 1981 and 1983.
According to court documents, Gebauer has agreed to pay nearly $8 million in restitution to Morgan, which has estimated its losses from his scheme at nearly $10 million.
Sweet also sentenced Gebauer to 3 1/2 years’ probation, conditioned on his repaying Morgan.
Sweet said it was not a daily occurrence for him to sentence ″a man who singlehandedly diverted $8 million for his own use from the accounts of one of the country’s most prestigious banks.″
According to the government’s pre-sentencing memo to Sweet, Gebauer stole more than $1.4 million from Morgan accounts and an additional $2.9 million in phony loans to depositors from February 1976 until he left Morgan on Aug. 30, 1985, and ″used the money for his personal benefit, and to maintain an extraordinarilly lavish lifestyle.″
Gebauer used the money to buy rare books, paintings, antiques and sculpture, redecorate his Manhattan co-op and Paris apartment, pay for limousine service, flights to his Long Island summer home and $1,000-a-week alimony payments to his first wife, according to prosecutors.
Sweet noted that Gebauer, who earned as much as $153,000 a year as a senior vice president at Morgan, was paid ″a princely income″ but ″spent like an emperor.″
After leaving Morgan, Gebauer became an investment banker at Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., which he left last May.
In a five-minute statement to the judge before sentencing, Gebauer said he took the money ″because I was weak, because I had bad judgment and my life got out of control.″
″I feel grief, sorrow, pain and mostly a sense of shame,″ Gebauer told Sweet. ″...in spite of what I have done, I know there’s some good in me.″
Gebauer claimed he always intended to pay the money back and that he believed ″my friends would not object ... if I used some of their money.″
Howard Wilson, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney’s office, challenged that claim in the pre-sentencing memo, asserting that affidavits from three of the Brazilians said they never authorized the withdrawals.
″Gebauer simply stole the money in those bank accounts from Morgan’s customers and Morgan itself,″ Wilson wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Imes told Sweet that based on amended income tax returns Gebauer filed late last year, he now owes a total of $6.9 million to the government, including interest and penalties.
In a letter to the judge earlier this month, Ms. Imes noted that two days before he pleaded guilty and after his lawyer told the government Gebauer had no cash to pay his tax bill he ″secretly sold one of his East Hampton homes for $1.9 million.″
Instead of applying the money to his tax bill, Ms. Imes wrote, Gebauer put a downpayment on a $930,000 Manhattan co-op, a $300,000 East Hampton beach house, a $150,000 payment to a friend and $150,000 to redecorate his Paris apartment.