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Bainbridge man pleads guilty to fraud charges

Larry J. Malone, 56, of Bainbridge, recently pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and receipt of gifts or commissions for procuring a loan, according to a press release from the office of Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. He could be sentenced for up to 30 years in prison for each offense.

The charges stem from a $50,000 bribe that Malone reportedly accepted, when he was previously employed as the chief lending officer at Southwest Georgia Farm Credit in Bainbridge. Malone also reportedly falsified certain documents, in order to make it easier for other alleged conspirators in the case to qualify for a loan.

Farm Credit CEO Richard Monson said Malone’s employment with the company was terminated in May 2008.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Crestview, Fla., attorney Chris Cadenhead, 56, and three Destin, Fla., residents, Jackie T. Fair, 70, Jane M. McDonald, 58, and Randolph “Randy” Branham, 44, on fraud charges in connection with the same case.

According to the indictment, Cadenhead obtained a $700,000 loan from Farm Credit, in 2005, to help fund the purchase of a $2 million Destin penthouse condominium for Fair and McDonald. Cadenhead alleged in loan documents that the money would be used to buy timber, and Malone signed the schedule detailing those future timber purchases.

Instead, Cadenhead reportedly used part of the money to pay a $50,000 bribe to Malone and a $25,000 bribe to Branham. Cadenhead also used $500,000 from the loan to help purchase the condo for McDonald and Fair in April 2005.

The indictment also alleges that McDonald obtained loans in her name, with the help of Fair and Cadenhead, for the purchase of the condo. Reportedly, false statements were made on the applications.

Malone was indicted by a grand jury in July 2011, and pled guilty to his charges on Sept. 22, 2011, according to the press release.

Monson said Farm Credit self-reported the case to the federal government in spring 2008.

“We found some discrepancies in Mr. Malone’s work,” he said. “Those discrepancies were enough for us to both to terminate his employment, and to make a referral to the Department of Justice.”

Monson said Farm Credit staff responded to all subpoenas and cooperated fully with the federal government during the investigation. He stated that the company’s processes “worked,” and it quickly reacted once it determined something was wrong.

“I would say that our processes and systems worked,” he said. “When we found out what we found out, we did what every corporation would do and made the referral to the correct agency.

“I feel like the institution has put in place a number of checks and balances, in the meantime, to make it harder for someone to perpetuate any malfeasance like this in the future.”

When reached by phone, Malone stated that the case was still “ongoing,” but declined additional comment.