Kersey man sentenced to prison for bank fraud

ERIE – A Kersey man has been sentenced to seven months in federal prison on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.Richard "Rick" Alan Raspatello, 56, of 1418 Million Dollar Highway, Kersey, who pleaded guilty to the charge, also has been ordered to make restitution in the amount of $86,953.14, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Erie.U.S. District Court Judge Sean J. McLaughlin handed down the sentence earlier this month. A federal grand jury indicted Raspatello June 9, 2009. The defendant initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to guilty last November, court records show. He has been free on $5,000 bail.According to court documents, Raspatello will begin his prison term "as notified by the United States marshal." Because the U.S. District Court has recommended that the defendant "be incarcerated as close to Kersey, Pa. as possible," Raspatello is expected to serve his prison term at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI)-McKean in Lafayette Township near Bradford.The court also sentenced Raspatello to "three years supervised release" when he completes his term in federal prison. Court records say "the defendant shall be placed on home detention for a period of six months to commence immediately following his release from imprisonment."  "At the direction of the probation officer, the defendant shall wear an electronic device and shall observe the rules specified by the Probation Department," terms of the "supervised release" show.The court also directed Raspatello to pay "a special assessment of $100." McLaughlin said the court would "waive the fine in this case" because "the defendant does not have the ability to pay a fine."According to court documents, Raspatello has been ordered to make restitution to eight banks and a credit union in the amount of $86,953.14. A total of 15 bank offices have been identified in the fraud case.The victims and the amounts involved in the fraud include: PNC Bank, State College, $3,500; PNC Bank, Waterford, $2,252; PNC Bank, Youngsville, $5,435; Wacopse Federal Credit Union, Warren, $14,300; Kish Bank, State College, $8,325; Citizens Bank (Giant Eagle location), Erie, $4,060; Northwest Savings Bank, Erie, $5,600; Northwest Savings Bank, Corry, $4,300; Hamlin Bank and Trust, Smethport, $11,700; First Summit Bank offices in Altoona (Wal-Mart), Johnstown, Cresson and Portage, $200; Indiana First Bank, Indiana, Pa., $20,505; and Sovereign Bank, Harrisburg, $6,776.14.Joshua Zachary Atwell, 24, of Hatch Run Road, Warren, is the only co-defendant in the case. He also was indicted two years ago on a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Initially, Atwell pleaded not guilty. He later changed his plea to guilty.McLaughlin earlier this month sentenced Atwell to spend six months at the Renewal, Inc. "community corrections center" in Pittsburgh. After his imprisonment, Atwell will go on supervised release for three years, according to court documents.Atwell has been ordered to make restitution in the amount of $76,677. His restitution will be made jointly with Raspatello. Atwell's total restitution figure was set at less than the $86,953 listed for Raspatello, court documents show.–Editor's note: Information for this article has been gleaned from numerous public documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Erie.