October 21, 2014

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Brunswick man indicted in fraud case

A federal grand jury in Cleveland has indicted a 40-year-old Brunswick man, accusing him of playing a role in a scheme that bilked a local church credit bureau of millions in loans.

Svetislav Vujovic is charged with one count of financial institution fraud, one count of bribery in connection with the business dealings of a financial institution and two counts of money laundering, according to Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

The indictment alleges that from January 2004 to January 2008, Vujovic worked with the former chief operating officer of St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union to fraudulently obtain loans totaling about $2.2 million, which were not paid back.

The former credit bureau CEO, Anthony Raguz, 53, of Mentor, was sentenced last month to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $72.5 million for his role in what federal law enforcement officials described as one of the largest credit union failures in American history.

Court documents show Raguz accepted more than

$1 million in bribes in return for issuing more than 1,000 fraudulent loans worth more than $70 million to more than 300 account holders at the St. Paul credit union from 2000 to April 2010.

Raguz pleaded guilty last year to six counts, including bank fraud, money laundering and bank bribery.

The St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union in Eastlake went bankrupt, resulting in a $170 million loss to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

The indictment against Vujovic charges he gave Raguz cash payments totaling approximately $20,000 to induce and reward Raguz “for approving and facilitating the approval of the fraudulent loans to Vujovic,” according to a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney.

The indictment also alleges that Vujovic obtained the loans by making false representations and promises and that he received many of those loans after having already defaulted on previous loans issued to him by the credit union.

The loans were obtained in the names Cleveland Comfort Corp., SND Inc., Balkan Contracting, GBRS Properties LLC and Balkan Enterprise Inc.

Vujovic could not be reached for comment Friday. No defense attorney is listed yet in the court records.

Vujovic is scheduled for arraignment Dec. 19 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Greg White.

The case against Vujovic is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Bridget M. Brennan and John D. Sammon, following an investigation by the Cleveland offices of the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division