Bridgeport bank failure fallout: Crooked entrepreneur Boguslaw Kasprowicz pleads guilty, aiding feds

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A Chicago entrepreneur pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges in the Washington Federal Bank for Savings bankruptcy case, admitting he helped embezzle $66 million from the Bridgeport bank, using some of the money to support his son’s acting career in Hollywood.

Boguslaw Kasprowicz, 65, a longtime Washington Federal client, admitted to aiding and abetting an embezzlement scheme involving John F. Gembara, the bank’s chairman, CEO and major shareholder, who was found dead with a rope around his neck in a customer’s bedroom in December 2017, about two weeks before federal regulators shut down the bank.

Kasprowicz pleaded guilty to cheating on his income taxes by failing to report the money he withdrew from the scheme. In his plea agreement, he also admitted to cheating on his construction company’s tax returns.

According to the plea agreement, Kasprowicz’s role in the scheme involved him using money embezzled from the bank to pay Gembara’s credit card bills and personal loans which were used in part to pay buying a yacht named Expelliarmus after a spell in the Harry Potter books.

After his indictment last year, prosecutors revealed Kasprowicz used some of the money to buy a house in suburban Los Angeles and pay for his son to study acting at the University of Southern California. They said he also sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to two other children in Poland, including a doctor.

Washington Federal Bank for Savings, 2869 S. Archer Ave., before it closed in December 2017 for “dangerous or unsound practices” days after CEO John F. Gembara was found dead at the home of a bank customer in what authorities called suicide.

One of 15 people charged with crimes following the bank’s collapse, Kasprowicz is the seventh to plead guilty and cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation.

Another bank client, William Kowalski, has received a deferred prosecution agreement to testify against his brother, Robert M. Kowalski, whose trial is scheduled for September.

Patrick Daley Thompson left court on February 14 after being convicted of tax evasion and lying to federal regulators about his loans from the Washington Federal Bank for Savings.

Patrick Daley Thompson left court on February 14 after being convicted of tax evasion and lying to federal regulators about his loans from the Washington Federal Bank for Savings.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times File

Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, who was also among those charged in the bank investigation, faces sentencing on July 6 after being found guilty by a jury of lying to federal regulators about the money he has borrowed from the bank and cheating on his tax returns by taking deductions for interest payments he never made on the loans.

Kasprowicz, who built Gembara Bank-financed homes in Bucktown and Wicker Park, got $14.3 million from the bank in construction loans between 2009 and 2017, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Daniel told the U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall — loans that Kasprowicz and his company Thomas Development never intended to repay, not even after the homes were sold.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Kasprowicz’s lawyer placed the blame on Gembara, the bank’s deceased CEO. “To some degree he was a pawn of Gembara,” attorney Adam Sheppard said.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Kasprowicz could face up to 15 years in prison, although he is likely to face a lesser sentence given his cooperation.

He agreed to pay $12.4 million to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which was to cover $90 million in losses to the bank, plus another $3.9 million to the Internal Revenue Service and $480,982 to the Illinois Department of Revenue for his tax crimes.

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