Commerce Bank Executives Plead Not Guilty To Fraud Charges

July 6, 2004 ( - Two Commerce Bank executives swept up in last week's City of Philadelphia "pay to play" allegations have pleaded not guilty.

Glenn Holck, the Pennsylvania president for Commerce Bank, and Stephen Umbrell, the bank’s regional vice president each pleaded not guilty to nine counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy.   The two each face up to 185 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine if convicted on all counts, according to a Reuters report.

A federal grand jury handed down the indictments in part of an ongoing investigation into the corruption of former Philadelphia City Treasurer Corey Kemp, 34, by Ronald White, 54, a Philadelphia attorney.  The charges of “pay to play” violations were the culmination of an investigation conducted by the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (See  ‘Pay to Play’ Violations Alleged in Philadelphia ).

The indictments allege the corruption occurred from January 2002 through October 16, 2003, during which time White made payments and offered benefits to Kemp.  These gifts included at least $10,000 paid in 2002, a $10,350 deck for Kemp’s house in 2003, a trip to the Super Bowl in San Diego in January 2003, tickets and limousine rides to all three days of the NBA All-Star events in Philadelphia in February 2002, and numerous other meals, parties, and tickets to sports and entertainment events.

In exchange for these benefits, Kemp permitted White to direct Kemp’s decision-making as Treasurer of the City, which included instructions on which financial service providers to select for participation in City transactions, and which to exclude.  Kemp’s decisions created large financial gains for White and those White favored.