Bank loan

A banker gets a year in prison as part of a loan program in Manafort

A Chicago banker has been sentenced to a year in prison for his conviction in a scheme to provide $16 million in loans to Paul Manafort to gain influence in the Trump administration

The banker, Stephen Calk, was convicted last year of financial institution bribery and conspiracy in federal court in Manhattan.

Before hearing sentencing, Calk, 57, told the judge the case had left his life “in shambles”.

“I sit here deeply, deeply humbled,” he said, holding back tears. He added: “I never sought fame or power.”

Defense attorney Paul Schoeman had argued for a jail-free sentence for Calk, calling him “a good and decent man who has led a law-abiding life. … It is an aberration that ‘he is in this courtroom’.

The lawyer said the fact that the bank suffered no serious financial harm “makes this case unique”, he added.

But prosecutors argued that Calk deserved a sentence of up to five years. They said he had “corruptly abused” his position as chairman and CEO of the Federal Savings Bank to provide $16 million in questionable loans to Manafort in exchange for Manafort’s help in securing the political power.

“There is nothing unique about the corrupting influence of power,” prosecutor Paul Monteleoni said.

Judge Lorna G. Schofield told Calk she needed to put him behind bars to send the message that “no one is above the law, no matter how wealthy and influential they are.”

She added: “You are extremely wealthy and you did not have to commit this crime.”

The judge added a day to the one-year sentence – a change that could qualify him for a suspension of his sentence for good behavior.

During a three-week trial, prosecutors say Calk played a pivotal role in getting approval for a $9.5 million home construction loan and another loan $6.5 million so Manafort can finish building a condominium in Brooklyn and avoid foreclosure.

Defense attorneys argued that Calk could not have obtained loan approval without the bank’s loan committee and underwriters agreeing to the terms. And they noted that the loans were obtained at a time when Manafort was considered wealthy and prosperous and had not yet faced criminal charges.

Prosecutors presented evidence showing Manafort helped Calk – a military veteran – get an interview for a job in the Trump administration, although he was never hired. Calk had hoped to become Army Secretary, but ultimately interviewed for other positions because that position had already been filled, Antony Scaramucci testified at trial.

At the start of the trial, Scaramucci, who had worked on Trump’s presidential transition team, said he would never have allowed Calk to get the interview for the administration job if he had known that Calk was helping Manafort secure millions of dollars in loans for his real estate ventures.

Manafort lost his position in Trump’s campaign due to his ties to Ukraine. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation led to his criminal conviction and more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. In December 2020, Trump forgave him.

Calk resigned from his family bank in 2019.