Kennewick, WA – A former Kennewick loan officer, charged with stealing $9,000 from his former customers through an investment scheme, entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment today in Benton County. He was released on his own recognizance until trial.
In late March, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office Financial Crimes Unit charged Sathiane Lakkham a/k/a Bruce Santana, 38, with two counts of first-degree theft and three counts of forgery in the case.
The first-degree theft charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Each forgery charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The charges were brought at the request of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
According to charging papers filed in Benton County Superior Court on March 29, Lakkham was an independent contractor with Country Home Finance for approximately 18 months. During this time, he assisted a married couple with refinancing their home mortgage.
Lakkham allegedly encouraged the couple to borrow additional funds to invest in a short-term, high-interest loan scheme he created. Later, Lakkham brought the couple two promissory notes which were allegedly on behalf of two of Lakkham’s customers. However, one customer did not request the loan and the other “customer” was a fictitious name that Lakkham simply invented to deceive the couple into making the loan. Lakkham then kept the loan funds for his personal use. The investigation began after a report was made to Country Home Finance about Lakkham’s activities.
The charges allege that on two occasions Lakkham obtained money from his former customers by deception– on one occasion Lakkham allegedly forged a promissory note; and, on two occasions Lakkham allegedly forged checks by completing the checks with his name inserted as payee.
The trial has been set for June 26, 2006.
Rebecca Jacobsen, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 389-2012
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725