Howell resident indicted in

Middlesex bank loan scam

A four-count indictment resulting from an alleged fraudulent bank loan has been handed up against a Howell man by a state Superior Court grand jury in New Brunswick.

The indictment resulted from actions allegedly undertaken by Philip Smolinski, 34, in which he illegally and fraudulently obtained an $80,000 loan from the First Bank of Central Jersey in North Brunswick, according to Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Nicholas Ruggiero.

On the first count, Smolinski is charged with second-degree conspiracy; on the second count, second-degree theft by deception; on the third count, third-degree uttering a forged instrument; and count four, third-degree hindering apprehension. The maximum sentence for a second-degree charge is 10 years, according to Ruggiero.

Smolinski was arrested on Nov. 18 and his bail was set at $75,000.

The chain of events in the case began in early 2001 when Smolinski allegedly submitted various documents to First Bank to secure an $80,000 Small Business Administration loan, according to Ruggiero. Included within those documents was a personal financial statement and a commitment letter believed at the time to have been signed by the defendant’s 80-year-old great-uncle, Roman Smolinski, as the guarantor of the loan.

It is alleged that on April 5, 2001, Smolinski brought a person to the loan closing at the bank who was posing as his great-uncle, Ruggiero said. That person is still being sought by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Ruggiero said.

Smolinski received a check for $80,000 on that date, according to the prosecutor.

The alleged fraud surfaced several moths later after Smolinski defaulted on the loan and First Bank placed a lien and was in the process of foreclosing on Roman Smolinski’s property, Ruggiero said. Roman Smolinski contacted authorities, claiming that he had never guaranteed the loan.

This development led to an investigation conducted by investigators Daniel Delbagno and Michael Taylor of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecution Section, in cooperation with Huell Alberty, then senior vice president of First Bank.

The investigators were able to determine that the real Roman Smolinski did not attend the loan closing or sign the documents, according to Ruggiero.

Delbagno and Taylor then went to Philip Smolinski’s home in Howell to execute an arrest warrant when the accused allegedly told the investigators he was someone else, according to Ruggiero.

Philip Smolinski later surrendered to Middlesex County authorities at which time he was arrested and also charged with hindering apprehension, the prosecutor said.

The next step will be a series of pre-trial hearings which will probably begin later this month or in early March, Ruggiero said.

The $78,000 balance of the loan plus interest is still outstanding, according to the prosecutor.

— Dick Metzgar