A former Stillwater car dealer is scheduled to go on trial later this month, charged with swindling a 119-year-old community bank that its president said helped push it into failure.
Daniel P. Routson, 55, formerly of Woodbury, is accused of bilking the now-defunct Jennings State Bank out of about $800,000 in 2008, according to the criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court.
The money allegedly was used to buy dozens of vehicles for his business, Routson Automotive. The vehicles were to serve as collateral on the loan, which was to be paid back as the vehicles were sold. According to the complaint, however, Routson hid the sale of dozens of vehicles from the bank in order to avoid paying back the money.
Routson, who now lives in Montana, is charged with three felonies: one count of theft by swindle and two counts of intent to defraud. Jury trials were originally scheduled in August and December of 2009 and later in 2010, but the case is now on the calendar for May 23.
According to the complaint, the bank accounted for all of the vehicles in which it held an interest in March 2008. The following July, however, the bank learned that Routson was planning to liquidate his inventory through sales or auctions.
With the loan due and Routson not responding to the bank, police were called, the complaint said. Routson had been reported missing by family members, but then showed up unannounced at the bank's Stillwater branch a week later.
When Routson and Paul Jennings, the bank president, did an inventory of the lot, 80 vehicles with bank liens were unaccounted for, the complaint says. The bank repossessed 20 others off the lot.
Jennings State Bank was based in Spring Grove, near Rochester. The bank president called the actions by Routson the "final and most serious blow" to the bank's finances that led to the FDIC's decision to close it. Central Bank of Stillwater took over the smaller bank's assets.
Jennings acknowledged that the bank had a large portfolio of real estate loans made during the boom years after opening its Stillwater branch in 1999. Many of those loans had gone sour by 2006. Its lending practices drew warnings from federal regulators.
Before Routson's alleged scam, one of the bank's vice presidents pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the bank of $200,000 by forging her husband's signature on a mortgage document extending her a $200,000 line of credit.
Crime - the media loves it, people fear it, and criminals get away with it!
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