MILL VALLEY (CBS SF) – A body discovered in a wrecked vehicle down a steep cliff in Marin County on Tuesday has been identified by the Marin County coroner’s office as 58-year-old Bijan Madjlessi of Mill Valley.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Andrew Barclay said a passerby spotted the wreckage down a cliff along Highway One near Mill Valley.

“We located the vehicle, approximately 350 feet down the steep cliff. It was too steep to access by normal personnel, so they utilized ropes and harnesses,” Barclay said. “Personnel from the fire department were able to hike down to the vehicle.”

Madjlessi was identified through fingerprints. Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd said he had been reported missing to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, and that an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

He was one of four people indicted in March on loan fraud charges in a case involving the now-failed Sonoma Valley Bank. The other defendants are 59-year-old attorney David Lonich of Santa Rosa, who worked for Madjlessi, 44-year-old former Sonoma Valley Bank president Sean Cutting of Sonoma, and 45-year-old former chief loan officer Brian Melland of Santa Rosa.

The indictment alleges that after Madjlessi defaulted on a $30 million loan made by another bank for a project known as Park Lane Villas East in Santa Rosa, he and Lonich obtained another loan from Sonoma Valley Bank in a false name to purchase his defaulted loan. The new loan from SVB amounted to $9.5 million, including $4 million to buy back the defaulted loan and $4.5 million for a construction company owned by Madjlessi, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Cutting and Melland knew the true identity of the borrowers and that the loan would likely exceed the bank’s lending limits for Madjlessi, but nevertheless recommended that the bank’s loan committee approve the transaction. The loan enabled Madjlessi and Lonich to regain title to Park Lane Villas East, according to the indictment.

The bank failed in 2010 and was placed in receivership under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which transferred it to Westamerica Bank. In December 2010, the FDIC issued an order barring Cutting and Melland from working in the banking industry on the ground that they had engaged in “reckless unsafe or unsound banking practices.”

Madjilessi had been free after posting $250,000 bond.


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