Former North Dakota bank president pleads guilty in bank fraud case
Bismarck Tribune (ND)
Aug. 30—A former bank president accused of defrauding banks in Beulah and Glen Ullin has pleaded guilty, and two others charged in the case are set to do the same.
Brady Torgerson, 34, in June entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors on two counts of bank fraud, according to federal court documents. He entered formal pleas at a Tuesday hearing.
The indictment against Torgerson also included charges of misapplication of funds, making false entries in bank records and aggravated identity theft. Those charges were dismissed under the terms of the agreement.
The alleged activities occurred while he was employed by The Union Bank in Glen Ullin and First Security Bank-West in Beulah, court documents show.
Brady Torgerson's father, Brent Torgerson, 60, and Kelly Huffman, 32, are charged with misapplication of bank funds. Huffman is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing on Sept. 21. Brent Torgerson's change-of-plea hearing is Dec. 13, according to court documents.
Brady Torgerson will be sentenced Nov. 28. Prosecutors under the terms of the agreement will recommend a sentence within a court-approved guideline range of up to 3 1/2 years in prison. Restitution of $451,000 also is outlined in the document, as is a recommendation for three years of supervised release.
Authorities say Brady Torgerson attempted to defraud both banks by issuing funds to people not entitled to them, failing to register bank transactions, creating fraudulent loan obligations and trying to conceal the activities.
Brent Torgerson is accused of issuing a cashier's check for more than $724,000 to his son without obtaining promissory notes and other necessary financial paperwork while he was a loan officer at The Union Bank. Huffman while working at First Security Bank-West allegedly issued a $125,000 check advance to another bank at Brady Torgerson's request.
The State Banking Board in July banned Brady Torgerson from working at any financial institution in North Dakota, saying his alleged unsound practices might cost First Security Bank-West more than $1 million.
The board said Brady Torgerson in 2020 while president of First Security Bank-West made loans above the bank's legal lending limit, made loans at a reduced interest rate, made 91 loans totaling $12.7 million without securing liens or gathering financial information, and distorted the bank's financial position on quarterly reports.
The bank had to set aside $1.02 million to cover potential losses. The amount is roughly equal to the bank's average annual earnings in the last five years, the board said.
Brady Torgerson was hired by First Security Bank-West in July 2017 and appointed president that day. He was appointed to the bank's board of directors in September 2017, according to information from the state board. He resigned both positions Jan. 19, 2021. He worked as a loan officer at The Union Bank in Glen Ullin before the board's order.
The board also stated that Brady Torgerson issued bank money orders at First Security Bank-West without proper corresponding accounting entries. A few days after his resignation, Torgerson returned 20 missing bank copies of money orders totaling $724,558 to the bank's Robinson branch, the state board said. He also brought a cashier's check in the same amount from another financial institution, the board said.
The charges against the men carry possible 30-year prison sentences and $1 million fines.