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First Mountain Bank Executives Plead Guilty

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Four former executives of First Mountain Bank of Big Bear pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges, as did the former owner of a Big Bear business that sold anti-tax literature.

The former executives -- Dennis Shollenburg, Hazel Hagy, Brenda Knudson and Vicky Melton -- admitted in their plea agreements that they had charged more than 100 customers $125 to open so-called pure trust accounts in 1997 and 1998. The accounts were opened without Social Security or tax identification numbers to thwart the government’s attempts to track interest income.

The four executives and Thomas Miller, who operated Freedom Education Center, which sold anti-tax material, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government.

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They each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kathy M. Kristof


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