Former Farmer’s Exchange Bank President and CEO sentenced to prison

United States Federal Judge for the Eastern District J.P. Stadtmueller, sentenced former Neshkoro banker Geffrey Sawtelle, 64, to two years in prison following his conviction on three counts of bank fraud; one count of false bank entry; and one count of false statement to federal bank examiners.

The court also imposed a $20,000 fine, $500 in special assessments, and ordered Sawtelle to pay $338,000 in restitution as well as two years of supervised release following his prison sentence, according to the release by Gregory J. Haanstad, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, on Nov. 9. 

Sawtelle pled guilty on July 19, to the five counts of conviction and acknowledged the court would consider counts that were dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement as relevant conduct for sentencing purposes.

The former president and CEO of Farmer’s Exchange Bank, and a shareholder in the bank holding company, Sawtelle had been charged in a 45-count indictment, which alleged over a 10-year period, he devised and executed a scheme to obtain bank funds for his personal use.

Sawtelle used many of the funds to support his hobby of auto sports racing, and he created false bank entries and made false statements to federal bank examiners in order to hide his theft and misapplication of the bank funds. In addition, the indictment alleged Sawtelle took unauthorized salary bonuses and created nominee loans for his own benefit, and that upon the sale of the bank in 2015, he attempted to defraud his holding company partners through a wire fraud scheme that resulted in multiple money laundering counts. Farmer’s Exchange Bank was sold to Hometown Bank in November 2015. 

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