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Elmwood Park loan officer admits taking bribes

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YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A former Elmwood Park bank officer admitted in federal court today to taking more than $65,000 in bribes to help customers get low-interest refinancing loans without preparyment penalties.

Jose Dominguez, 46, of Newark, already pleaded guilty eight days ago to bank fraud, bribery and conspiracy in connection with another case in which he and a Newark police officer were charged with defrauding Spencer Savings Bank to secure a $1.9 million loan to buy two apartment buildings in Elizabeth.

The officer, 13-year veteran Victor Patela, was sentenced to four years in federal prison last month.

Sentencing for Dominguez is scheduled for Sept. 19 in Camden.

Dominguez today admitted soliciting and accepting $55,529 in payoffs from one customer, “intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a bank transaction,”  U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said this afternoon.

The customer wanted to refinance loans without paying significant prepayment penalties, Fishman said. Dominguez, in turn, told the customer he could “obtain a lower interest rate without paying a prepayment penalty” in exchange for a bribe, he said.

Dominguez also admitted to accepting additional bribes of $4,500 and 5,000 from oher bank customers.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahid N. Quraishi and Vikas Khanna of the Fishman’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

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