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A Hot Springs insurance agent pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to defrauding area banks out of more than $3.5 million, Duane Kees, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said in a news release.

Berry Roland Bishop, 67, president of the Alliance Insurance Group of Arkadelphia, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hot Springs to the offense of knowingly defrauding financial institutions, with his sentence to be determined at a later date.

According to the information filed by the U.S. attorney's office and the plea agreement accepted by the court, Bishop defrauded two banks using two schemes.

As president of Alliance, he forged the signatures of multiple insurance clients and applied for 27 loans in their names at the Bank of Prescott.

Bishop applied for these loans without the authorization or knowledge of those clients and, in the process, defrauded the Bank of Prescott out of more than $2.1 million, the release said.

As part of his plea, Bishop also admitted he defrauded Citizens Bank out of $200,000 by misrepresenting the financial condition of his company, specifically the condition of the collateral, to induce Citizens to approve loans to his company that would not have otherwise been authorized.

Bishop applied for these loans from Citizens Bank and the Bank of Prescott to improve the cash flow of his business.

According to the plea agreement, prosecutors and Bishop agree the total loss amount attributed to Bishop's criminal conduct will exceed $3.5 million.

Bishop faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine up to $1 million for the bank fraud.

Metro on 12/16/2018

Print Headline: Bank-scam plea guilty; 2 lenders lost $3.5M

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