U.S. Attorney DAK Keys has announced a guilty plea by former insurance executive, Berry Roland Bishop, 67, of Hot Springs in a bank fraud scheme involving more than $3.5 million.

Bishop, a former member of the Lakeside School Board, operatted agencies in several cities, including Arkadelphia and Hot Springs. His license was suspended earlier this year, to the surprise of someone who’d negotiated to buy his business, after discovery of irregularities.

A government news release said he defrauded two banks in two separate schemes.

Bishop, president of the Alliance Insurance Group of Arkadelphia, forged the signatures of multiple insurance clients and applied for twenty-seven separate loans in their names with 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 over $2.1 million. As part of his plea, Bishop also admitted that 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, both the Government and Bishop agree that the total loss amount attributed to Bishop’s criminal conduct will exceed $3.5 million dollars.

He’ll be sentenced later. The guilty plea is the culmination of a long series of headlines including a bankruptcy filing, lawsuits and other problems for Bishop. His license suspension came as an offer was pending to buy his office in Hot Springs for $15 million.

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