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Times Staff and Wire Reports

Signet Fraud Defendant Enters Guilty Plea: Edward Reiners, a former Philip Morris Cos. employee, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. Reiners, 51, of Somers, N.Y., convinced Richmond, Va.-based Signet Banking Corp. and six other firms that he still worked for the tobacco firm and was borrowing money for a top-secret research project. The FBI arrested Reiners in March after he had received $323.5 million in loans. Reiners, 51, faces up to 30 years in jail and a $1-million fine on the bank fraud conviction, and 20 years and $295 million in fines for money laundering. Sentencing was set for Oct. 21. U.S. District Judge Robert Merhige Jr. ordered the immediate forfeiture of the roughly $210 million in assets recovered by authorities.


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