Secret informant helped Sonoma Valley Bank probe

A secret informant wearing an electronic wire helped federal agents build their case against two former Sonoma Valley Bank executives and two borrowers accused of defrauding the bank before it collapsed in 2010, according to an affidavit unsealed in U.S. District Court.

The document provides the most detailed account made public so far of the conspiracy alleged in a grand jury indictment against Marin County developer Bijan Madjlessi, Santa Rosa lawyer David Lonich, and former bank executives Sean Cutting and Brian Melland.

Madjlessi was killed in a car wreck discovered Tuesday off a steep Marin hillside. The three remaining defendants are scheduled to appear in court Friday.

The informant, an unnamed construction contractor who borrowed money from Sonoma Valley Bank, recorded conversations with Madjlessi and Lonich in 2011 as they tried to calm his fears about testifying before the federal grand jury, according to the document.

The degree of detail imparted by Madjlessi and Lonich is evidence of their participation in the alleged scheme, as well as their apparent effort to coach the informant about his testimony, according to the affidavit filed by a federal agent investigating the case.

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