Friday, July 19, 2002

Lawyer: Erpenbeck may plead guilty


Deal could spare builder notoriety, shorten any prison time

By James McNair, jmcnair@enquirer.com
and Patrick Crowley, pcrowley@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The lawyer for Bill Erpenbeck said Thursday that the embattled home builder is dangling a guilty plea to federal prosecutors who are investigating him and others for bank fraud.

        Glenn Whitaker, a Cincinnati lawyer, acknowledged that he and Mr. Erpenbeck have begun discussing the possibility of pleading guilty to an unspecified crime. If a deal is struck, it would spare the Crestview Hills builder further notoriety from a long, highly publicized criminal trial — and could shorten any prison time he might face.

STORY ARCHIVE
Click here for all Enquirer reports on Erpenbeck Co.
INVESTIGATION
If you have any additional information on the business dealings of the Erpenbeck Co. or Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky - or on the involvement of any parties not yet identified in our coverage - please email Enquirer business reporter James McNair at jmcnair@enquirer.com or Kentucky Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley at pcrowley@enquirer.com.
        “It's going to be resolved cooperatively,” Mr. Whitaker said. “Presumably, there'll be a plea to something down the road.

        “I don't know when it'll happen,” he added. “It'll be a negotiated plea.”

        The FBI, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other federal agencies have been conducting a bank fraud investigation of the Erpenbeck Co. and two former Northern Kentucky bankers, John Finnan and Marc Menne, since March. The collapse of the home-building company cost home buyers, banks, subcontractors and other creditors more than $107 million and has placed financial and regulatory strain on Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

        Spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office were unavailable Thursday to comment on Mr. Whitaker's remarks. The government issued a subpoena for Erpenbeck Co. records in June, and FBI agents have been conducting interviews of former employees of Erpenbeck Co. and Peoples Bank, as well as Erpenbeck family members.

        “As they start tightening the knot, you'll usually see some individuals decide to enter guilty pleas,” said Donald Bucklin, a former federal prosecutor now practicing white-collar defense in Washington, D.C.

       



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