A federal grand jury in Norfolk yesterday indicted three relatives of the former owners of bankrupt Landbank Equity Corp. for conspiring to hide thousands of dollars of the firm's assets from federal bankruptcy officials.
In addition, two former employes of the second-mortgage firm yesterday pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from their roles in a scheme to defraud nearly 40 investors of almost $200 million.
The 65-count indictment accuses John Edward Runnells, Lucille P. Runnells and Steven Z. Runnells of concealing furniture, records, a car, property, securities and cash that belonged to Landbank before the firm filed for bankruptcy in September 1985.
The three, who are charged with conspiracy, concealment of assets and criminal contempt, allegedly continued to spend and transfer thousands of dollars in funds in violation of a November 1985 court order.
Lucille Runnells is the mother of William R. Runnells Jr., who owned Landbank along with his wife, Marika Lody. John Runnells is his brother.
According to the indictment, William R. Runnells and his stepson, Steven Z. Runnells, went to Aruba early last year on a gambling junket where William "lost $40,000 at the Concorde Casino." In addition, William allegedly deposited about $78,000 "in cash as front money at the Sands Casino" in New Jersey in October 1985.
U.S. Attorney Henry E. Hudson, whose office conducted the Landbank probe, said yesterday that the investigation is continuing.
Former Landbank vice president, Imelda H. Greene, yesterday pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.
James A. Simoneau, another Landbank vice president, also pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bankruptcy fraud for his role in the alleged scheme.
Landbank, which once claimed to be the largest second-mortgage firm on the East Coast, provided loans to persons in desperate need of cash. In exchange, the firm sometimes charged up to 40 points for the loans, or 40 percent of the loan's amount, as a fee