Ashton Ryan sentenced to 14 years in prison for fraud that ended First NBC Bank
Avoyelles Journal, Marksville Weekly News, Bunkie Record (LA)
On September 6, 2023, United States District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced ASHTON J. RYAN, JR., age 75, of Kenner, Louisiana, to a term of imprisonment of 170 months following RYAN's convictions for bank fraud and making false statements in bank records, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
In February 2023, following a five-week trial, a jury convicted Ryan on all 43 counts against him. The charges related to RYAN's tenure as President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board at First NBC Bank ("Bank"), a now-defunct federally insured financial institution with its main branch in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, RYAN and others conspired to defraud the Bank through a variety of schemes, including by disguising the true financial status of certain borrowers and their troubled loans, and concealing the true financial condition of the Bank from the Bank's Board, external auditors, and federal examiners. As RYAN's fraud grew, it included several other bank employees and businesspeople from around the Gulf South. Several of the borrowers who conspired with RYAN, used First NBC money to pay RYAN individually or fund RYAN's own businesses. Using Bank money this way helped RYAN conceal his use of such money for his own benefit.
When the Bank's Board, external auditors, and FDIC examiners asked about loans to these borrowers, RYAN and his fellow fraudsters lied about the borrowers and their loans, hiding the truth about the deadbeat borrowers' inability to pay their debts without receiving new loans. As a result, the balance on the borrowers' fraudulent loans continued to grow, resulting, ultimately, in the failure of the Bank in April 2017. This failure caused approximately $1 billion in loss to the FDIC and the loss of approximately 500 jobs.
Judge Fallon sentenced RYAN to a term of imprisonment of 170 months as to each of the 43 counts of conviction to run concurrently, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. RYAN was ordered to pay restitution totaling over $214 million to the FDIC. Judge Fallon also ordered RYAN to pay a mandatory special assessment fee of $100 per count.
"Ashton Ryan's years-long deceit caused at the time, one the biggest bank failure in America in over a decade," said United States Attorney Duane A. Evans, "and with this sentence, he rightfully takes his place as one of the most notorious white-collar criminals in our district's history. Ryan's intelligence and charisma were outmatched by his hubris and vanity. Ryan and his accomplices spent years hiding their tracks, by using sophisticated means, all to maintain their house of cards. But this office, along with our federal law enforcement partners, doggedly combed through the wreckage of what was First NBC to uncover the inner - workings of this complex fraud and its prime architect, RYAN. I am proud of this entire team's work in identifying RYAN as the central figure in this years-long scheme and bringing him to justice."
"Today's sentencing sends a clear message that individuals who engage in fraudulent schemes that impact the security of financial institutions will be held accountable. This should be a deterrent to others who would attempt to manipulate the nation's banking system," said Douglas A. Williams, Jr., FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge. "We thank our partners at the United States Attorney's Office Eastern District, the FDIC Office of Inspector General and the Federal Reserve Board, Office of Inspector General."
"Today's sentencing represents the hard work of many prosecutors, agents, analysts, and other staff in investigating and prosecuting those who defraud financial institutions, specifically individuals entrusted to oversee the operations of FNBC. The FDIC-OIG thanks the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for their dedication and effort in helping to bring Mr. Ryan to justice, "said Anand Ramlall, Special Agent in Charge, Dallas Region, Office of Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
"Today's sentencing of Ashton Ryan is a warning to bank executives that if you commit fraud and deceive bank regulators you will pay a price for your actions," said Brian Tucker, Special Agent in Charge, Eastern Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "We commend the hard work and dedication of all those involved in this case that ultimately led to today's result. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who undermine the safety and soundness of our banking institutions."
The Assistant United States Attorneys who handled the trial were Senior Litigation Counsel Matthew R. Payne, Nicholas D. Moses of the Financial Crimes Unit, and J. Ryan McLaren of the Appellate Unit.