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Another guilty plea in First NBC bank fraud case

Warren G. Treme, 55, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to defraud First NBC Bank.

NEW ORLEANS — A Metairie businessman has become the latest person to be charged and plead guilty for defrauding First NBC Bank through a relationship, both personal and business-wise, with Ashton Ryan, the former president of the bank, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. 

Warren G. Treme, 55, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to defraud First NBC Bank. Documents showed that Treme had a personal and business relationship with Ryan that should have precluded Ryan overseeing Treme’s dealings with the bank.

The court documents say that Treme had an insufficient income and cash flow to pay business and personal expenses and that Ryan and First NBC Chief Credit Officer William J. Burnell helped disguise Treme’s troubled finances by making new loans to pay off the older ones.

WWL-TV Investigator David Hammer reported recently that four borrowers had already pleaded guilty in the First NBC case.

In July, a grand jury indicted Ryan, Burnell, First NBC Executive Vice President Robert B. Calloway, and borrower Frank J. Adolph for their roles in the conspiracy to commit bank fraud against First NBC, including fraud involving the TREME loans.

Ryan founded First NBC Bank in 2006 and would go on WWL Radio every week and share his financial insights in the wake of the devastating storm. He built the small bank into a $5 billion enterprise that went public on the NASDAQ exchange in 2013.

In April 2017, the bank collapsed, losing $1 billion and falling into FDIC receivership. It was the largest bank collapse in Louisiana history and the biggest in the country over the last decade.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors said Ryan used those high-risk lending situations to funnel money to himself and his own real estate interests, pocketing more than $2 million from them.

Federal prosecutors have charged six former borrowers to build a sprawling case against Ryan and former chief credit officer Bill Burnell, who was also indicted on a count of conspiracy and 33 counts of aiding and abetting bank fraud Friday.

Treme is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2021.