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Jury Verdict Hammers Commerce Bancorp

Two executives are convicted in a Philadelphia corruption trial.

Shares of

Commerce Bancorp


were trading sharply lower after the conviction of two bank executives in a Philadelphia municipal corruption trial.

In afternoon trading, Commerce stock fell $1.11, or 3.8%, to $27.99. Before news of the jury's verdict hit the market, shares of the New Jersey-based regional lender were modestly higher.

The two Commerce bankers were convicted on charges that they were part of a criminal conspiracy to arrange special loans for a former Philadelphia official who in turn awarded lucrative bond underwriting to Commerce's Pennsylvania subsidiary.

The bankers, Glenn Holck, president of Commerce Bank/Pennsylvania, and Stephen Umbrell, a vice president of the subsidiary, were indicted last summer along with 10 other people, including former Philadelphia Treasurer Corey Kemp. Kemp was convicted on charges of accepting thousands of dollars from a former associate of Philadelphia Mayor John Street.

Neither Street nor any other Commerce executives were charged in the case. Commerce officials have repeatedly denied any further involvement in the influence-peddling scandal.

The convictions came after 19 days of jury deliberation. A bank spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Last summer, the scandal put a big dent in Commerce's stock and tarnished its image as one of the New York City area's fastest-growing banks. In response to the indictments, Commerce announced that its capital markets division would exit the municipal bond underwriting business.

By the fall, Commerce's shares had rebounded, after prosecutors did not move to indict any other bank executives. The stock has largely treaded water until Monday's guilty verdict.

Meanwhile, the

Securities and Exchange Commission

continues to investigate allegations that Commerce gave campaign donations to public officials in the hopes of securing local government contracts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.