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First NBC Bank's former top lawyer charged in federal probe

Gregory St. Angelo was general counsel for the failed bank for a decade before its collapse

Gregory St. Angelo, the former top lawyer for First NBC Bank, was charged in federal court Friday with conspiracy to defraud the failed New Orleans bank.

St. Angelo served as First NBC's general counsel for a decade until 2016. During that time, he took out loans totaling tens of millions of dollars from the bank, many of which went into default. 

He is accused of conspiring with two former top First NBC officials to defraud the bank: President and CEO Ashton Ryan, referred to in court documents as "Bank President A," and former Chief Credit Officer Bill Burnell, referred to in the documents as "Bank Officer B."

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Eddie Castaing, the attorney for Ryan, told The New Orleans Advocate that his client denies any allegations outlined in court documents.

St. Angelo is the first former bank employee to be charged in the wake of the collapse. He is due for a first appearance in court on March 29. He was charged in a bill of information, which is generally a sign that a defendant is cooperating with an investigation.

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Neither Ryan nor Burnell have been charged, though court documents make clear that the two are targets of the federal probe. 

According to the Advocate, in court documents, prosecutors allege that St. Angelo, Ryan and Burnell conspired to defraud the bank through various "false and fraudulent pretenses," and that by the time of the bank's collapse he had obtained nearly $56 million in loans and other advances through such means.

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First NBC's collapse two years ago was the biggest in the nation since the 2008 financial crisis.