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Loan officer faces Nevada fraud charges

Posted: August 20, 2011 - 10:50pm

An Alaska Pacific Mortgage employee, who was indicted on multiple fraud and money laundering charges in Nevada last week, was relieved of her duties Friday.

Marcilin Anne (Marcie) Benvin, 51, was working as a mortgage loan officer for the company, a division of Alaska Pacific Bank, after leaving Nevada.

“It came as a surprise to us,” said Chris Bourque, who said Benvin was removed as soon as the bank heard of the accusation.

Bank officials said her duties in Juneau were different from those at the mortgage company she ran in Reno and for which she is facing multiple felony charges.

“Mrs. Benvin had no management authority within the mortgage division,” said Craig Dahl, the bank’s president and CEO, in a statement issued Friday.

“The bank’s internal review processes, which include independent underwriting, ensure that the work performed by Mrs. Benvin while with Alaska Pacific Bank was done in compliance with all Bank and regulatory guidelines,” Dahl said.

Among the charges Benvin is facing are mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and embezzlement and theft from an employee benefit plan, according to an indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney in Reno.

The charges say Benvin operated Cetus Mortgage, which obtained money from individual investors with which to make mortgage loans, but didn’t always use that money appropriately.

The indictment said that by 2008, when Cetus filed bankruptcy, it had a portfolio of loans valued at $35 million.

The exact amount of money lost due to the scheme is still undetermined, but “will exceed several million dollars,” the indictment.

In one specific instance the indictment details, Benvin is accused of stealing or embezzling $260,000 from the employee pension plan of a local painting contractor.

Chris Bourque, Alaska Pacific’s senior vice-president and chief operating officer, said Benvin has been with the bank’s loan operation since March 2010. She first began as a loan processor, but more recently had been one of Alaska Pacific Mortgage’s two loan originators.

Bourque said her duties in Juneau would not have allowed her to do what she was accused of doing in Nevada, and that all work she did here was reviewed and verified.

“We understand the concern,” Bourque said, but “her duties were much different here.”

A standard background check was done for Benvin, as it is for all employees, but turned up nothing that would disqualify her, Bourque said.

By 2009, Benvin had filed for bankruptcy, had judgments against her and was the subject of multiple civil state and federal cases accusing her of fraud, misrepresentation and other claims, according to Nevada and federal court databases.

“There was no indication of anything at all,” in Benvin’s background checks, Bourque said.

Upon reading about Benvin’s indictment in the paper Friday morning, “we took immediate steps” to relieve her from her duties, he said.

Benvin is scheduled to appear in federal court in Nevada on Sept. 1.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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