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Another guilty plea in St. Paul Croatian FCU fraud
CLEVELAND, Ohio (3/19/12)--A Kirtland, Ohio, man is the latest person to be sentenced for his role in the $2.5 million fraud ring that brought down St. Paul Croatian FCU in one of the nation's largest credit union failures in 2010.

John Cendol Jr., 48, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Christopher A. Boyko in Cleveland to two weeks in prison and ordered to pay $260,000 in joint restitution to the Eastlake, Ohio-based credit union. He had pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. He was one of several defendants charged with allowing illegal transfers into their loan accounts at the credit union. 

At least 17 people have been charged in the fraud. Court records indicated that more than 1,000 fraudulent loans totaling more than $70 million were made to 300 account holders between 2000 and 2010 (News Now Feb. 28 and May 17).  The loans were instrumental in St. Paul Croatian being placed into conservatorship on April 23, 2010 and closed the following May 1.  The failure cost the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund $170 million.

Two key figures in the case are awaiting sentencing: They are Anthony Raguz, 51, former CEO of the defunct credit union, who pleaded guilty to issuing the loans and accept more than $500,000 in bribes, kickbacks and gifts from those who obtained the loans (News Now  March 8), and Koljo Nikolovski, 49, of  both Eastlake and Skopje, Macedonia, who pleaded guilty to 18 counts of bribery, bank fraud and money laundering.  Raguz is scheduled for sentencing on June 11, and Nikolovski's sentencing has been set for April 23.

Eddy Zai, 43, a Cleveland area financier, was charged in February with 34 counts of obtaining fraudulent loans, making him the single largest recipient of the alleged fraudulent loans (News Now Feb. 9).

Others charged included:

  • Rose Ann Nikolovski, 48, Eastlake;
  • Marko Nikoli, 33, Eastlake;
  • Ruth Cendol, 55 of Kirtland;
  • Daniel Kocher, 72, of Euclid;
  • Edward Watral, 37, Creston;
  • Jennifer Cerjan, 33, Orrville;
  • Arben Alia, 34, of Eastlake;
  • Ilir Marku, 34, Willowick, Ohio;
  • Vaso Shani, 36, Eastlake;
  • Alban Sulkaj, 35, Clinton Township, Mich.;
  • Zoge Ahmetaj, 68, Eastlake;
  • Oerim Ahmetaj, 74, Eastlake; and
  • Skender Demiri, 36, North Ridgeville, Ohio (News Now March 4 and May 17).


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