Vestavia Hills man must pay $12m and serve 15 years of father-son fraud that funded lavish lifestyle

A Vestavia Hills man has been jailed in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $12 million in restitution after authorities said he and his father carried out a bank fraud scheme used to fund a style of lavish life.

Christopher A. Montalbano, 38, and his father, Gus Montalbano, 77, both pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to the scheme.

Christopher Montalbano entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in November 2021 and was sentenced this week to 15 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Annemarie C. Axon also ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $11,924,471.

Gus Montalbano pleaded guilty before Axon to conspiring with his son to commit bank fraud, according to a statement Thursday from U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Prim Escalona and the FBI Special Agent in Charge. , Johnnie Sharp Jr.

Both were charged in July 2021.

“(Christopher) Montalbano deserves this sentence every day because he went to great lengths to cover up his massive fraud scheme,” Sharp said.

“Let’s hope Montalbano enjoyed the little time he spent with the luxury items he bought with money he swindled from federally insured banks, because now he will be paying for his Crimes with Years Behind Bars American citizens can rest assured that the FBI will continue to pursue the predators who deceive our economy for their own personal gain.

According to young Montalbano’s plea agreement, between 2015 and 2020, he fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in loans from at least sixteen different financial institutions by submitting fraudulent information to financial institutions in loan applications and in vouchers.

The plea agreement says Christopher Montalbano obtained the loan proceeds in his own name, through a shell company, or on behalf of a co-conspirator.

He specifically used the loan proceeds to pay for an extravagant lifestyle that included traveling on a private jet plane, employing private pilots, employing a personal assistant, buying several high-end vehicles, including Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and the purchase of several properties, including a residential one. house in gated community, lakefront home and farmland.

To further facilitate the bank fraud scheme, Christopher Montalbano created websites for some of his front companies, including Land Work Tractor & Equipment (LWT&E), previously located in Florida and then in Vincent.

On the LWT&E website, Montalbano posted photographs of agricultural and construction equipment, UTVs and boats that were allegedly in LWT&E’s possession and for sale.

However, the majority of these photographs were copied and taken from the websites of legitimate equipment dealers.

As part of the program, Christopher Montalbano purchased adjacent properties totaling approximately 150 acres in Vincent where LWT&E was allegedly located.

It then closed private access roads, which prevented unplanned access and severely limited the ability of lenders to verify LWT&E’s possession of equipment sold and/or the validity of photos of equipment on site. LWT&E Internet.

The FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robin B. Mark and Kristen Osborne are prosecuting the cases.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates that schemes to defraud federally insured financial institutions are serious crimes subject to significant penalties,” Escalona said.

“This accused has caused a loss of several million dollars to the victims. We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to hold the perpetrators of these fraudulent schemes accountable and use all the tools at our disposal to recoup their ill-gotten gains.

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