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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ex-vice president of Grand Junction bank pleads guilty to theft; audit said $650,000 missing

A former vice president at a Grand Junction bank has pleaded guilty to theft and other charges after an audit determined $650,000 had been embezzled.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports (http://tinyurl.com/o5r87lm ) 53-year-old Anna Jones entered her plea Tuesday. She faces up to 12 years in prison at her Sept. 11 sentencing hearing.

She pleaded guilty to felony theft of more than $20,000, trespassing and violating probation.

Jones supervised tellers at a branch of the Bank of Colorado. Bank officials alerted police in March 2011 after the audit determined money was missing, and Jones was arrested in November 2012.

The audit showed the embezzlement began in April 2009.

A court document said Jones had two mortgages, two vehicle loans and eight credit cards.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kansas City woman charged with embezzling nearly $3 million, causing company to close

 A Kansas City woman is charged with embezzling nearly $3 million from a bank and a company that had to close after declaring bankruptcy.
A federal grand jury indicted 52-year-old Irene Marie Brooner on Tuesday on several counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. She made her initial court appearance Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Brooner embezzled close to $2 million while working for Galvmet Inc., a sheet metal fabrication and steel service company that closed earlier this year. She also allegedly embezzled $1.1 million from a bank.
The fraud allegedly occurred for a decade. Prosecutors say Brooner used the money for personal expenses and lavish living, including remodeling and stocking a basement bar in her home, travel, jewelry and spa visits

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Former bank officer owes $45K

A former officer at a Durant bank was sentenced Tuesday to eight months of home detention after pleading guilty to embezzlement. Daniel James Abbott, 32, also must pay more than $45,000 in restitution. Abbott was an officer at Durant’s First National Bank and Trust between October 2011 and September 2013 when he took the money, according to prosecutors. The Calera resident, who pleaded guilty in May, also will be on probation for three years.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, announced that DANIEL JAMES ABBOTT, age 32, of Calera, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 3 years of probation, 8 months of home detention and was ordered to pay $45,524.47 in restitution for Embezzlement By Bank Officer Or Employee, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 656.
The charge arose from an investigation by the Durant Police Department and the United States Secret Service. The defendant pled guilty in March 2014.


The Information alleged that from on or about October 26, 2011 to on or about September 18, 2013, in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the defendant, being an officer and employee of the First United Bank and Trust, Durant, Oklahoma, a bank whose deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, with intent to injure and defraud First United Bank and Trust, willfully misapplied and embezzled the moneys, funds and assets belonging to said bank and entrusted to the custody and care of the defendant as an officer and employee in an amount exceeding $1,000.00.


The Honorable Ronald A. White, District Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, presided over the hearing.

Assistant United States Attorney Chris Wilson represented the United States.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Former Bank Employee in Neosho County Sentenced for Embezzling More than $278,000

  A former employee of a bank in Neosho County was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison for embezzling more than $278,000 from the bank and two customers.

  U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said 42 year old Sherrie Landell of Erie pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a bank employee. In her plea, she admitted that from September 2007 to May 2013 she embezzled from Exchange State Bank.  Landell worked in the bank’s branch in St. Paul.   She was responsible for maintaining the bank’s general ledger account and an account designated for accounts receivable on certificates of deposit. Money she stole included interest due on certificates of deposit. She fraudulently altered the bank’s records to conceal the crime. The shortage was discovered during a bank regulatory exam and subsequent audit by an independent accounting firm in 2013.  Grissom commended the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Smith for their work on the case.

Bank in Hot Water for Allegedly Taking Part in Embezzling Scheme

A California bank is in hot water for allegedly taking part in an embezzlement scheme.

The First California Bank handled accounts of Kinde Durkee, a former campaign treasurer for several high-profile Democratic politicians.

Authorities say Durkee had been at the center of an elaborate shell game, regularly shifting money between her clients' accounts while pocketing a few million dollars.

Durkee pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud last year and was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison.

Officially, the bank acknowledges no wrongdoing, while agreeing to the settlement.

According to reports, that settlement is $4 million with $2 million going to the campaign account of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

 A California bank that handled the accounts of a former campaign treasurer for several high-profile Democratic politicians has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the bank should have known the treasurer was embezzling money, attorneys for the politicians and the bank said Thursday.

The agreement reached with First California Bank includes $2 million for the campaign account of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She estimated that she had lost $4.5 million when it was revealed that her longtime treasurer, Kinde Durkee, had been carrying on an elaborate shell game in which she regularly shifted money between her clients’ accounts while she siphoned off millions of dollars.

Durkee pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud last year and was sentenced to more than eight years in prison. She was ordered to pay $10.5 million in restitution, even though she had few assets.

Feinstein and several other lawmakers and political committees sued First California Bank, alleging there was a “pervasive pattern of misconduct” and that the bank was at the heart of Durkee’s illegal transfers.

Joe Cotchett, who represented Feinstein, said the attorneys had evidence that bank employees knew about the fraud based on emails and other correspondence they were able to obtain.

“We finally got the hard drive from the FBI. We were able to look at that and get emails that certainly tracked the allegations we made,” he said.

Thomas Nolan, an attorney who represented First California Bank, said the bank does not acknowledge any wrongdoing but said it agreed to the settlement to avoid a costly and time-consuming lawsuit.

“The bank certainly does not admit that they were culpable, engaged in any wrongdoing, or had any knowledge of fraudulent wrongdoing,” he said in an interview.

The settlement has not yet been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court but was presented to a judge this week, the attorney said.

Attorney Wylie Aitken, who represented clients that include Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, and Reps. Linda and Loretta Sanchez, who are sisters, said bank officials overlooked several red flags because they didn’t want to lose Durkee’s business. That included illegal transfers between federal and state campaign accounts.

“She was one of their personal customers; they were giving her favors for being one of their better depositors of monies,” he said.

Aitken said the bank continued to pay funds even when Durkee’s checks bounced.

The $4 million settlement is being distributed to candidates based on their losses. Other recipients include campaign committees for:

• State Sen. Lou Correa, $378,000.

• Former state Assemblyman Jose Solorio, who is running for state Senate, $330,000.

• Rep. Loretta Sanchez, $175,000.

• Rep. Linda Sanchez, $150,000.

• National Popular Vote, $600,000.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Former bank employee sentenced for embezzling

 A 42-year-old Neosho County woman has been sentenced to about a year in federal prison for embezzling more than $278,000 from a bank branch and two customers.

The office of U.S. Attorney for Kansas said in a release Monday that Sherrie Landell of Erie, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a bank employee and admitted that from September 2007 to May 2013 she embezzled from Exchange State Bank. She worked at the bank’s branch in St. Paul.

Landell’s also accused of fraudulently altering the bank’s records to conceal the crime.

The prosecutor’s office says the shortage was discovered during a bank regulatory exam and subsequent audit in 2013.

Poor Oversight Blamed for $320K Embezzlement

Due to a lack of oversight at a small Illinois credit union, two employees were able to embezzle more than $320,000 in separate incidents that spanned many years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kimberly Kent, 53, a former manager at the $4.2 million Milledgeville Community Credit Union who also served as an elected official for a small Illinois town, was sentenced July 14 to eight months in federal prison for embezzling more than $220,000 from the credit union from 2005 to 2012, the court documents said.

In addition to prison, Kent was also sentenced to two years of supervised release and a $5,000 fine.

Kelsey Selman, 37, a former teller at the 850-member institution in Milledgeville, Ill., who admitted embezzling more than $100,000 from 2007 to 2012, was sentenced in May to two days in prison, three years of supervised release and a $4,000 fine, the documents said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini, who prosecuted both cases, stated in court that the two women, who were among three employees at the credit union, took advantage of the institution’s minimal oversight.

In an interview with CU Times, Paccagnini said one of the most unusual aspects of the cases is that both women have already repaid the credit union for money stolen.

“Both of them paid back the money as they resigned,” he said.

In addition to $231,823.15 in restitution Kent already paid to the credit union, she was ordered to pay $10,176.72 in restitution to Milledgeville Community Credit Union and $5,278.75 to Wysox Township to cover investigative costs, Paccagnini said.

The latest two cases follow a string of internal fraud allegations recently uncovered at Illinois credit unions. Other recent cases include Paul C. Smith, a former president of Laclede Community Credit Union and former treasurer of a Illinois Credit Union League chapter, who recently pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to using the chapter’s debit card for almost $60,000 in personal expenses over five years. Charles Juska, former president of the $25 million Tazewell County School Employees Credit Union in Pekin, Ill., recently pleaded not guilty to misapplying more than $500,000.

In the latest case at Milledgeville Community CU, both former employees pleaded guilty earlier this year.

In Selman’s plea agreement, the ex-teller confessed to applying fake credits to her personal account, which caused the credit union’s records to falsely reflect that her cash drawer increased by an amount to offset the deposit into her account.

In the other case, Kent, who also served as treasurer of Wysox Township, admitted in a plea agreement that she used fraudulent loans and town funds to conceal her fraud at the credit union.

Prosecutors say the contrast in sentencing is due to the extent of the crimes and the attempts to conceal the fraud.
Although Kent and Selman stole the money for personal use, Kent went to great lengths to conceal her crime and may have purposely covered up Selman’s fraud, the documents said.

To conceal her own fraud, Kent created fictitious loans and certificates of deposits using names of family members, the documents said.

After being elected treasurer of Wycox Township in 2009, Kent began using the town’s accounts at the credit union to cover her embezzlement, the plea agreement said.

For almost two years, she moved money into and out of Wysox Township’s accounts at the credit union, transferring a total of $175,000 from a township account to cover up her credit union fraud, the court records said.

After it became clear that the credit union would uncover her illegal activity, Kent resigned and provided information to the auditor.


Both women faced a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment, up to five years of supervised release and up to $1 million each in fines.

During the sentencing hearing for Kent, an attorney representing the former manager requested a lighter sentence due to Kent’s “good character, cooperation, payment of restitution in full prior to criminal charges being commenced and her psychological diagnosis,” the court documents said.

A doctor who testified at Kent’s sentencing said the former manager embezzled because she believed it was a family need and want, which stems from her family history, and that she would pay back the funds, the court documents said.

However, Kent and her defense team did not explain how someone with a diminished capacity could go to such great lengths to conceal their crime, the documents said.

In response, prosecutors cautioned the court to not overlook the fact that defendant committed the crimes over the course of many years.

Prosecutors said the sentencing needed to reflect the seriousness of the crime, promote

respect for the  law, provide just punishment for the offense and deter criminal conduct by others.

Although defendants may be entitled to lower sentences if they have a significantly impaired ability that causes lack of restraint to control wrongful behavior, there must be a link between the defendant’s diminished capacity and the commission of the offense to warrant a lower sentence, prosecutors said.

“While defendant characterizes herself as law abiding, she fails to account for the more than six years of her life that included the day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month taking of monies from the credit union,” prosecutors stated in the court documents. “As a supervisor with no oversight, defendant’s actions went unchecked and the government has little doubt that but for the other employee’s embezzlement, defendant’s embezzlement would be ongoing to this day.”

Unlike Selman, who stole from her teller drawer and did not conceal her illegal activity, Kent created fictitious loans and certificates of deposit, and used other accounts and her position as an elected official and credit union manager to move money in order to hide her illegal activity.

“Such actions do not evidence someone operating with a diminished capacity,” prosecutors stated.                                              

“The government also notes that it is likely defendant knew of the other employee’s embezzlement and did nothing to avoid scrutiny on the credit union that would possibly reveal her own embezzlement,” the documents said. “The credit union’s system at times identified such large amounts of supposed cash on hand in the other employee’s teller drawer that defendant would have to have noticed.”

At one point, Kent electronically lowered Selman’s cash drawer amount, the documents aid.

In addition, Kent wrote the letter of resignation for Selman, which the former teller copied word for word, the documents stated.

During Kent’s sentencing, prosecutors also shot down another attempt for sympathy and leniency.

“The government has no doubt that defendant’s crime has brought unwanted community attention to her family and that her imprisonment will have an adverse impact on her family,” the court documents said. “An adverse impact on family is, sadly, a natural consequence of an individual’s decision to engage in criminal activity. When an individual is incarcerated, it is expected that his family life will suffer.”