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Limousine Builder Denies Trying to Bribe FBI Agent

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County limousine manufacturer on trial in U. S. District Court on charges of bank fraud took the stand in his own defense to deny bribing an FBI agent the night he was arrested.

Michael Victor Louciano also blamed bank officials for causing his financial troubles. Louciano, a resident of Orange, is accused of submitting false loan applications to obtain about $4 million from two Los Angeles banks.

“I am a car builder--an automobile builder does not give bribes to nobody,” Louciano testified late Thursday.

Louciano, whose real name is Victor Bagha, entertained the jury and courtroom audience with his descriptions of a meeting with an FBI agent whose tape recorder was apparently not very well hidden inside his coat. Louciano said he could see the tape recorder during a lengthy conversation at a Los Angeles hotel, but he played along because, “I was just trying to make a fool of him.”

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“You can know he’s a police from 3,000 miles away,” a grinning Louciano told the jury.

Louciano, 42, was arrested in mid-February after allegedly attempting to bribe an FBI agent posing as a bank loan officer. Soon after Louciano’s arrest, a federal grand jury issued a 32-count indictment charging him with conspiracy, submitting false loan applications to banks and trying to execute a scheme to defraud a bank.

His business associate, John Marsella, 45, of Corona del Mar, was indicted on 17 similar counts. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Louciano’s company, Nationwide Coach Manufacturing Co., had a business office in Santa Ana and a manufacturing facility in Costa Mesa before it closed in 1984. The company designed and manufactured customized limousines. He owned another company that provided limousine service to Orange County hotels and other customers.

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The indictment charges that the two men persuaded friends and acquaintances to fill out loan applications and borrow the $50,000 needed to buy and complete each limousine. The pair allegedly promised borrowers generous tax write-offs and an immediate $5,000 cash payment for leasing back their limos to Nationwide.

Louciano said he “was making money for all these banks I was doing business with.”

“I had a very, very good relationship (with Mitsui Manufacturers Bank) until jealous people started causing trouble and Mr. Noseworthy (Mitsui’s auditor) called the FBI,” Louciano said.

Louciano also told the jury he “was followed by FBI and police everyday.”

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He said it was impossible to keep going unless the banks approved new loans. When the loans stopped, the business fell apart, he said.


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