'Facts don't line up well' for Chicago banker Stephen Calk ensnared in Manafort mess

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is a mystery man at the trial of Donald Trump's former campaign chief and it isn't Paul Manafort the defendant.

The mystery man is Stephen Calk, the oft-mentioned Chicago bank CEO who has been implicated by authorities in various schemes, stunts and personal loans with Manafort-but has never even been seen in court, isn't on the government's witness list, and hasn't been charged with any crime.

Calk though has been presented to the jury in testimony and email evidence as an apparent co-schemer with Manafort.

"Based on what we've seen there could be exposure" for Calk, said former federal prosecutor Gil Soffer, ABC7's legal analyst. Calk is the founder and CEO of Federal Savings Bank in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood. His bank loaned Manafort $16 million during the 2016 campaign season when Manafort was chairman and Calk was on candidate Trump's economic advisory panel.

"The facts don't line up very well" for Stephen Calk said Soffer, referring in part to Calk's lobbying Manafort for help in becoming Secretary of the Army at the same time his bank was loaning Manafort money. "Clearly the government doesn't think it's a coincidence. They're not going to present it as a coincidence. That's part of the story, what would cause the CEO of the bank to do what he did because there was something for him."

"The government has the awkward fact that the bank itself appears to have approved the loan even knowing that there were serious deficiencies in the loan application. You have to explain that. And the explanation it seems is that the CEO of the bank was aware of those deficiencies, interceded and approved the loan. It's still bank fraud because the bank itself was defrauded."

As prosecutors spill just about every bean possible on Manafort who is charged with bank fraud, Calk is conspicuously missing from the proceedings. Perhaps that is because the government has cut a side deal with Calk, Soffer says, or simply because they need to keep their eye on the ball: Manafort.

"The government's top job here is to prosecute and convict Manafort."

Two top Chicago Federal Savings Bank executives have been given immunity by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but the men have not been called to testify. Prosecutors on Wednesday said they had trimmed 9 people from their witness list and now have only 8 witnesses left. It is not known whether the Chicago bank executives are among them.

Regardless, Calk's possible legal liability after his loan interactions with Manafort and his seeming maneuvering for a Trump appointment as Secretary of the Army may not be apparent until after
the trial.

"The government has a lot of different ways to approach cooperators" said Soffer. "It can sign them up as part of a deal, it can say in exchange for you cooperating we will give you a pass, the government can say in exchange for you cooperating we'll charge you but we'll give you a reduced, recommended reduced sentence the government can also say we'll see what happens."
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