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Banker who wreaked havoc fesses up to felony charge

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Greg Andrews

Indianapolis loan officer Rob Tolle served as an executive vice president of Old National Bancorp, a lofty post that put him in charge of millions of dollars in real estate loans to central Indiana developers.

That’s a high-stress job even in a strong economy. But overseeing a portfolio filled with deteriorating loans is downright excruciating, as lending officers who’ve lived through the carnage of the recession can attest.

Tolle apparently cracked under the pressure, and he now admits to creating a fake project-inspection report in late 2007 in an attempt to prevent Old National from reviewing or downgrading a $2.8 million real estate loan.

He submitted a plea agreement in federal court in Indianapolis this month admitting guilt to one felony count of creating a false bank entry. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The agreement, which requires court approval, stipulates that Tolle, 39, receive credit under sentencing guidelines for accepting responsibility and that the government not bring additional charges related to his fraud.

But the faked inspection report is just one example of the mayhem caused by Tolle, according to Old National, which has said the shenanigans cost it many millions of dollars.

Bank officials in 2008 said they began scrutinizing Tolle’s portfolio early that year after several of his loans deteriorated. They said they initially found the forged inspection report and later unearthed other misconduct, such as faked signatures, that hindered Old National’s ability to seize collateral in the event loans soured.

For example, on one large loan Old National had required the personal guarantees of the borrower’s three principals—one of whose signatures it found had been forged.

In another case, Old National thought it had access to cash collateral but found the borrower’s pledge of those accounts was forged.

The bank in the first half of 2008 charged off $13.9 million related to what it called “the fraud-related incident.” It stashed away another $4.6 million to cover other potential losses.

Old National CEO Bob Jones told IBJ this month that those moves “more than adequately covered the losses from this terrible situation.” He noted the bank carried insurance and was able to liquidate some collateral.

The whole episode befuddles developers who worked with the veteran lender.

“I would say Rob never struck me as the kind of guy who would do something like this,” one developer said. “His demeanor was very professional.”

The criminal case revolves around the $2.8 million loan Old National issued in May 2006 to locally based Camby Woods Development LLC, which was planning a 103-acre development of single-family homes and apartments in Indianapolis’ Decatur Township.

Court files say Tolle’s Camby Woods loan file included an August 2007 report updating construction progress that appeared to have been prepared by outside vendor Professional Service Industries Inc.

But when an Old National loan manager attached that document to a February 2008 e-mail asking PSI to prepare an updated report, PSI responded it had no record of the earlier inspection.

Three days later, in a meeting with Old National’s head of security, Tolle admitted he fabricated the report. He said he had scanned in PSI letterhead and the signatures of PSI managers to make it look official. His motivation, he said, was to keep the loan in good standing.

Old National ultimately charged off $1.3 million of the $2.8 million loan, court files show. Camby Woods Development put the brakes on the project when the real estate market crashed. The firm has its first 40 home lots ready for building.

Meanwhile, the bank is still wrestling with other Tolle fallout. For example, several local investors have filed lawsuits against him and the bank charging they were fraudulently induced to provide loans for construction of the Mansion Row Apartments on Cold Spring Road.

Old National had issued a $4.3 million loan for the project in 2006. According to one lawsuit, Tolle a year later began trying to line up additional financing to sustain the project.

In a letter attempting to drum up investor interest, he wrote: “Right now, the apartment market is probably stronger than it has been in the last five years. We all know the issues in the housing market. That being said, while I am not an appraiser, I think it is reasonable to assume the apartments at Mansion Row could have [a] stabilized value in the $7 million to $8 million range.”

Old National ended up foreclosing on its loan, and a group of Cincinnati investors purchased the property this year.

Robert Hammerle, an attorney for Tolle, said his client makes no excuses for breaking the law.

Even so, he said, “There is an explanation. It deals a lot with what is expected of you as a banker, and the pressure and demands that are on these guys.

“Sometimes, that results in very, very good people doing something they will regret to their grave. This is one of those times.”•

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  • Character
    These actions speak to his character. If you steal, you violate the rule of law and jeapordize our way of life. This is why it is against the law. Get him away from our kids and have him pay his debt in jail. Afterwards, he deserves a fair chance.
  • And at what level do you know Rob?
    In response to "perspective", I think you missed the point. Yes Rob is a felon, he knows that and so do I. Even with knowing that I still wanted him to coach my kid. That speaks volumes to his character and how well he works with the kids. I have been to ALL practices and games and not once has Rob talked to the kids about banking or how to "defraud" your employer. He has taught the kids about working as a team and trying to succeed no matter how bleak it may look. Also there are NO charges for embezzlement, get your facts straight.
    • Let's cut thru the bull
      Regardless of what kind of coach he may be, the fact is he is a felon. He broke the law, defrauded his employer, and embezzled money from investors. Each and every one of you needs to ask yourself "What if it was my money that he stole?" By his actions, this man destroyed people's lives and he should pay for his crimes. Any man capable of these actions has NO business coaching our children. Shame on CG football! Shame on those parents for defending him. What message are you sending your children?
    • You must be mr perfect!
      I have known Rob for several years now and he has coached my son 3 years in football and 2 in baseball. Even after learning of the charges filed against Rob I still requested him as my son's coach. Which is a popular thing, both in baseball and football so many families request Rob for coach he can't pick them all due the lack of spots on a team. I'm guessing you are just still bitter because his team won the championship last year. Rob has made my son not only a better football and baseball player but a better person. Fact of the matter is Rob made NO financial gain from what he did, he has admitted to his mistakes and will pay. Leave your personal feelings out of it
    • People in glass houses
      I thing the saddest part is that you are judging someone for a mistake they made professionally. This individual has been nothing but wonderful toward my child and a great coach...do we know what any other coach has in their past?? Watch judging others...there is a family involved here. Shame on you!
    • Not my son
      Wow! What kind of megalomania is this guy? What kind of people run this football league? Thought I would look them up on their Webpage. Send them an email about how you feel.

      http://www.cgbfl.org/pdfs/2010%20bod%20contact%20info.doc
    • Jail is where he belongs
      Believe it or not this guy is a kids coach for Center Grove Football. I was shocked when someone I know pointed this thief out at the field today. I guess in sports everything is OK. What message does this send our kids? If your caught with your hand in the cookie jar, eat as many as you can and then say I'm sorry! All is forgiven NOT!

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    1. Can your dog sign a marriage license or personally state that he wishes to join you in a legal union? If not then no, you cannot marry him. When you teach him to read, write, and speak a discernible language, then maybe you'll have a reasonable argument. Thanks for playing!

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