Pursuit for funds from deceased Lincoln businessman expands to Iowa

One banker says financial institutions were ‘blindsided’

By: - December 6, 2022 4:33 pm
Marshbanks home

This Lincoln home, at 11700 E. Van Dorn St., as well as a guest cottage and a “barndominium,” were part of a residential complex being built by Aaron Marshbanks, a recently deceased Lincoln businessman being investigated for alleged loan fraud. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include a second court filing from Iowa.

LINCOLN — Three more financial institutions, including two from Iowa, have now joined the more than 20 Nebraska banks, savings and loans and credit unions seeking repayment of loans from a Lincoln businessman found deceased a month ago.

In a court filing Tuesday, Lincoln Savings Bank of Cedar Falls, Iowa, maintains that the estate of Aaron Marshbanks owes it in excess of $1.8 million for two unsecured loans it made to him in July.

Another Iowa institution, Midstates Bank of Council Bluffs, filed a claim later Tuesday for $2.4 million in unpaid funds for three loans made in 2022.

Marshbanks
This business office, in an industrial area of northeast Lincoln, was often listed as the business address of limited liability companies used by Aaron Marshbanks in his real-estate dealings. A woman working there declined to comment Tuesday.
(Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

On Monday, State Nebraska Bank & Trust of Wayne, Nebraska, filed a claim seeking $2.8 million.

Court documents indicated that Marshbanks, operating as Planet Capital LLC, personally guaranteed that two loans from the Cedar Falls, Iowa savings bank, for $2 million and $1.5 million, respectively, would be repaid.

The Council Bluffs bank provided two loans totaling just under $300,000 for a limited liability company, Cesh LLC, managed by Marshbanks, who put up two homes in northeast Omaha as collateral. A $140,000 loan on Oct. 13 listed a home at 2416 Binney St. as collateral — a home that had an assessed value of $61,200 for property tax purposes this year.

That followed a $2 million line of credit approved by Midstates in March for another Marshbanks limited liability company, Big Bear Capital, for business expenses. That deal included a promise that a $4 million balance would be maintained in a brokerage account managed by an investment firm run by a business associate of Marshbanks, Jesse Hill of Hickman.

The Wayne bank indicated that its loans were secured by security accounts kept by Hill, under the name of another LLC, Anytime Capital.

Calls and texts left with Hill in recent days have not been returned. An Omaha lawyer representing the Marshbanks estate has declined to comment about the case.

‘Blindsided’

Kade Hoppenworth, a first vice president with Lincoln Savings Bank, said his institution is awaiting results of a probe by Nebraska banking officials, as well as resolution of its court claim, to determine whether collateral existed, as the bank was led to believe, to back up the loans.

“I think a lot of us were blindsided by the whole thing,” Hoppenworth said Tuesday. “Every conversation I had with Aaron seemed like he was a real estate professional.”

Messages left with representatives of the Wayne and Council Bluffs banks were not immediately returned.

The Nebraska Examiner first reported Friday that the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance was looking into millions of dollars of loans allegedly obtained via fraud.

Since then, at least four more institutions have filed legal claims against the estate of Marshbanks, a 45-year-old former star athlete at Lincoln Christian High School, widely known in Christian circles in the Capital City.

Losses exceed $30 million

Sources and court filings indicate that the banks, savings and loans and credit unions could be facing losses exceeding a total of $30 million and up to $50 million.

The loans indicated that the funds were needed for “business expenses,” but there is widespread speculation that the money was needed to cover investment losses or to help finance the construction of a luxury home and barndominium complex in east Lincoln. 

Marshbanks is listed as the owner of a duct-cleaning business and is involved in renovating and reselling homes and home construction.

Some loans provided properties, mostly in northeast Omaha, as collateral, which would provide some repayment for the loans. But many of the loans, like those granted by the Lincoln Savings Bank, were unsecured.

The loan agreements indicate that they go into default upon the death of the borrower.

Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon said Tuesday that he ordered an autopsy into the death of Marshbanks, who was found deceased in a downtown Lincoln parking garage on the afternoon of Nov. 2.

Lincoln police had listed his cause of death as unknown. Condon said that toxicology reports take up to 10 to 12 weeks to come back.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

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