SPRINGFIELD — Wayne H. Kruger, 73, of Litchfield, was sentenced on Sept. 9, to 36 months in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, for defrauding several banks in Central Illinois, including ones in Bement and Cerro Gordo.

Kruger pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud on Feb. 22, 2021. According to court documents, Kruger admitted that beginning in December of 2010 and continuing through about May of 2012, he attempted to execute or executed schemes to defraud banks including the Carlinville National Bank and Trust Company; the State Bank of Cerro Gordo; and the State Bank of Bement, resulting in a total loss of $4,185,957.

Kruger, then the president and owner of Ponder Equipment Company, Inc., a bus dealer, regularly sold buses “out of trust.” This fraudulent practice involves a dealership — here, Ponder — selling a bus that has been paid for with loan proceeds but failing to use the sale proceeds to pay back the lender. When Kruger sold a bus and failed to repay the associated loan, the relevant bank was unable to seize the loan collateral because it no longer existed as an asset of the business.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Mills noted that Kruger’s scheme affected small banks in communities built on personal relationships and trust. The judge also ordered restitution for all three banks in the amount of $4,185,957.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass represented the government in the prosecution.

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