Cueto appellate brief says Maryland bank proffered 'pack of lies' for evidence

Steve Korris Aug. 19, 2010, 4:30am


MOUNT VERNON - American Bank of Maryland should pay Amiel Cueto $28 million and chief executive officer James Plack should go to jail, according to Cueto.

A brief he filed with the Fifth District Appellate Court in July recommended punitive damages against the bank and criminal prosecution for Plack.

He accused Plack of committing perjury twice.

"Perjury is a felony punishable by fine and imprisonment in a state penitentiary," he wrote.

Cueto himself served time after being convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the United States. He lost his law license as a result.

After his release he filed a series of "pro se" suits in St. Clair County.

On June 11, 2008, he sued American Bank Holdings Inc. and other parties alleging they ruined a real estate transaction in East St. Louis worth $7.4 million to him.

All parties responded except American Bank.

Cueto moved for default judgment against the bank, and Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson granted it.

Gleeson awarded $7.4 million in damages and nine times as much in punitive damages.

Although Cueto represented himself, Gleeson awarded $24.6 million in legal fees to Grey Chatham, brother in law of Chief Judge John Baricevic.

Gleeson ordered the deposit of all punitive damages into a "Cueto St. Clair County Trust" that would build schools and streets.

American Bank appeared, and moved to set aside judgment.

Gleeson didn't set it aside but he shrank its scope, reducing punitive damages to $21 million and vacating the legal fees.

Later he vacated punitive damages, leaving Cueto with the original $7.4 million.

Finally, expressing doubt about his jurisdiction over a Maryland bank, Gleeson certified the question to the Fifth District.

In the ensuing appeal, the bank challenged the remaining judgment, while Cueto sought to reinstate punitive damages.

Cueto's appellate brief argues that when Gleeson vacated punitive damages, he relied on a false affidavit from Plack denying that he employed a man named "Blazak."

Cueto claims he discovered later that the bank employed a man named "Blaszczak."

"Amiel Cueto asserts here that the evidence proffered by ABHI before the trial court was not only worthless, but it was also a pack of lies," he wrote.

He attached an e-mail showing that a bank vice president named D'Arco e-mailed outside counsel Richard Fine on July 25, 2008, about the suit.

D'Arco wrote that the claim seemed to be against United Federal Mortgage, adding that the bank acquired assets from it but didn't acquire companies from it.

"The plaintiff may understand us to be the surviving entity, but that is not the case," the e-mail stated.

Cueto's brief calls the e-mail a smoking gun that proves perjury on the part of Plack, who testified he learned the following February that the bank didn't respond.

Cueto wrote that Plack also committed perjury in blaming breakdowns of procedure.

"ABHI chose intentionally to ignore the underlying Cueto lawsuit for eight months after having been served," he wrote.

He accused bank employee Cassandra Wallace of perjury for notarizing an affidavit she knew was false.

"It may well be that both ABHI and Mr. Plack will be indicted for their crimes," he wrote.

"Mr. Plack may be extradited, ABHI may be fined, and Mr. Plack may be sentenced," he wrote.

"Of course the prosecution decisions are all up to the state's attorney of St. Clair County," he wrote.

He called on the Fifth District to strike all of ABHI's briefs and pleadings, affirm Gleeson on compensatory damages, and reverse Gleeson's order vacating punitive damages.

As of Aug. 13, the bank had not replied.

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