HOUSTON -

A former Houston banker could face a lengthy prison sentence for defrauding the company he worked for. Carlos Lavin Ibarra, 33, entered a guilty plea to one count of bank fraud on Wednesday, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Ibarra worked at JP Morgan Chase Bank in Houston.
He admitted that while employed there, he purchased or caused to be purchased $779,000 in cashier’s checks on accounts owned by a person from Nigeria. This person was deceased at the time of the defendant’s actions and Chase was not advised of his death. The defendant admitted he acted fraudulently and without authority.

The cashier’s checks were all made payable to “Ben Leasing.” Ibarra admitted he caused another individual to obtain a certificate of operation under the assumed name of Ben Leasing from the County Clerk of Harris County and open a bank account in that name. However, that person refused to accept the cashier’s checks and Ibarra then re-deposited the checks at Chase.

He further caused eight more cashier’s checks to be purchased in various amounts, payable to different individuals with whom Ibarra had a relationship.

Three of these checks were subsequently exchanged for identical Chase cashier’s checks. All of the Chase cashier’s checks were deposited into different bank accounts in Houston.

Sentencing has been set for Sept. 29, 2014. At that time, Ibarra faces a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

As part of his plea, Ibarra has also agreed to a forfeiture of $779,000.

The case was investigated by the Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Braddock.