Proceeds From Bank Fraud May Have Been Used To Repay Illinois Gambling Debts

Written By Matt Boecker on October 12, 2022
Marek Matczuk is charged in connection to fraudulent loans from Washington Federal Bank. Allegedly, money went to pay off gambling losses.

A report suggests fraudulent proceeds from a failed bank may have been used to cover over $1 million in debts at Illinois casinos in the Chicago area.

The news comes from a recent Chicago Sun Times report.

In 2017, a Bridgeport, IL bank was shut down and later revealed to have handed out a minimum of $31 million in crooked loans. But federal prosecutors were never able to determine where all the loan money went or how it was spent.

Marek Matczuk was charged in connection to the fraudulent loans handed out by Washington Federal Bank for Savings. Federal prosecutors are now working to determine if the money Matzcuk received from Washington Federal went to pay off his massive gambling losses.

Matczuk, 59, lived in Park Ridge while working as a real estate contractor and handyman. Washington Federal CEO John F. Gembara was found hanged in Matzcuk’s home soon after the bank closed its doors. Matczuk had delinquent loans from the bank totaling $13 million, according to federal authorities.

Washington Federal’s fraudulent loan scheme

The bank would provide loans with no documentation, no collateral and no plan to ever receive payment back. Washington Federal provided these types of crooked loans to specific individuals considered insiders on the scheme.

Matczuk was charged with siphoning $6 million from Washington Federal in conjunction with the loan scheme.

Matczuk was an avid gambler at Illinois casinos

The Chicago Sun Times reported Matczuk lost a large sum of money due to his gambling habits. From 2011 to 2018, Matzcuk allegedly bet away over $982,000.

Federal prosecutors believe Matczuk may have used the money he received from Washington Federal to fund his gambling. But Matczuk’s lawyer Lawrence Hyman claims there’s no reason to believe his client didn’t pay his betting debts with the money he made from working as a contractor. Hyman told the Sun-Times:

“It would be wrong to conjecture that the earnings and losses he had from the [casino] boats were related in any way to the losses from the bank. One had nothing to do with the other. He’s been a working contractor all his life, built homes, been gainfully employed. His sources of money could have come from anywhere.”

If prosecutors can prove the casinos were aware of the fact Matczuk was paying his losses with the money from Washington Federal, then the money could be recovered, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

For sure, Matzcuk received over $2.8 million in unsecured loans from the bank between 2013 and 2017, prosecutors said. When the bank closed, Matczuk had five outstanding mortgages for his home and three other properties.

The backstory of Washington Federal’s crooked dealings

It all started in 2013 when Washington Federal opened. In the beginning, its main clientele were Polish immigrants living in Chicago’s South Side. Gembara’s family ran the bank for decades before John took over as CEO.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) reported that as of June, Washington Federal still had 2,379 uninsured depositors. The bank also has about $1.4 million in uninsured deposits.

Further, about $90 million has already been paid by the FDIC to cover the bank’s insured deposits. But it’s unclear how much money has been recovered.

Matczuk, along with 13 others, have been charged in connection to the federal investigation on the bank. One notable person charged was former 11th Ward Alderperson Patrick Daley-Thompson. He was sent to prison for falsifying his income taxes and lying to regulators about the loans he received from Washington Federal.

As for Matczuk’s case, there are 11 co-defendants: Robert Kowalski, Boguslaw Kasprowicz, Miroslaw Krejza, five former bank workers and three former board members. Each person is facing accusations of aiding Gembara in his embezzlement scheme.

A portion of the money covered property tax payments for Matczuk, Kowalski, Kasprowicz and Krejza. Also, Matczuk, allegedly, used the money to pay credit card bills and to purchase a luxury yacht.

Prosecutors said Washington Federal’s illegal actions began in 2004, if not earlier. And bank employees allegedly covered up the wrongdoing by inaccurately filling out bank documents to keep regulators off the bank’s trail.

Gembara’s mysterious death

Washington Federal’s CEO was suspended by the bank board on Nov. 28, 2017. Matczuk claims to have received phone calls from Gembara on Dec. 1. Gembara told Matczuk “that he is in ‘trouble’ with his bank and needed a place to stay.”

The two met and drove together to Matczuk’s Park Ridge home. The following day, Matczuk’s son said he drove Gembara to a store because he wanted to buy rope to hang Christmas decorations in the former bank CEO’s Palos Hills residence.

On Dec. 3, the Matczuk’s claim to have found Gembara hanged in a bedroom. The Cook County medical examiner’s office deemed the cause of death was suicide. Though, no note was left by Gembara. However, his wife received a single text from her husband reading “Bye.” Thus, Gembara’s wife questioned the medical examiner’s findings.

On Dec. 5, a report was issued revealing Matczuk and his wife owed Washington Federal $13.2 million. Of that amount, $11.6 million was deemed to be a total loss.

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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker is a 2020 graduate of Northern Illinois University hailing from Chicago. Boecker specializes in coverage of sports betting and legalization. Former teammates and coworkers describe him as a nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.

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