North shore men sentenced in bank fraud case

Two north shore men were sentenced Thursday in federal court for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown sentenced Reginald Harper, 59, of Hammond, to two years in prison with three years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine. Troy Fouquet, 45, of Covington, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Both men were also ordered to pay restitution of $570,955.71, plus interest, to First Community Bank.

According to court documents, Harper, the former president and CEO of First Community Bank, in 2004 loaned more than $2 million to Fouquet, a north shore real estate developer, or to one of several companies Fouquet owned or controlled.

The loans were meant to pay for land to be developed into subdivisions. But by the beginning of 2005, Harper and Fouquet could not find buyers for any possible homes to pay back the loan and began to find ways to avoid reporting the delinquency.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, methods the men used to try to hide the delinquency included Harper making fake loans to prospective home buyers and Fouquet presenting Harper with insufficient checks that Harper accepted and credited to the loan payment from First Community Bank, despite knowing the check was insufficient.

Those fraudulent actions led to a report about the bank’s financial health that affected its application to get funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which is administered by the United States government. Ultimately, according to court documents, First Community Bank suffered “severe financial losses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.