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Friday, April 30, 2010

Gaston, South Carolina woman indicted for embezzling $445,000 from credit union

Acting United States Attorney Kevin F. McDonald announced today that Teresa Johnson, 44, of Gaston, was charged in a 23-count federal indictment with embezzling money from her former employer, the SAFE Federal Credit Union.

The indictment alleges that Johnson embezzled amounts ranging from $2,900 to $8,600 on numerous occasions from July 2006 through April 2009. Investigators estimate the total amount embezzled is nearly $445,000.00.
According to McDonald, the maximum penalty Johnson could receive as to each count is a fine of $1,000,000 and 30 years imprisonment.
Mr. McDonald stated that the case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that he has assigned the case to Assistant United States Attorney Dean A. Eichelberger of the Columbia office for prosecution. The Acting United States Attorney stated that all charges in this Indictment are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Former Bank of the West Customer Service Manager in Sacramento, Californina Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison for Embezzlement

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced on April 23, 2010 that United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced Donice Maxine Medina, 53, of Parlier, today to 33 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release for theft and embezzlement of bank funds. Medina was also ordered to pay $1,890,801 in restitution to the Bank of the West, her former employer. She pleaded guilty on January 29, 2010.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was brought to the attention of the FBI by Bank of the West investigators who discovered the embezzlement. Assistant United States Attorney Kirk E. Sherriff prosecuted the case.
According to Medina’s guilty plea, from January 2006 through August 28, 2009, she used her position as a Customer Service Manager of the Bank of the West branch in Parlier to embezzle $1,890,801 of the bank’s funds.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fremont, Ohio Woman Charged with Embezzlement of More Than $100,000

On March 25, 2010, Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio,  announced an information was filed against Michelle M. Wehring, age 36, of Fremont, Ohio. The information charges Wehring with embezzlement of approximately $101,000 from the Fremont Federal Credit Union between on or about June 15, 2005 to September 8, 2008.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
The investigating agency in this case is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sandusky, Ohio. The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas O. Secor, who may be reached at the above number.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Cesar Madrigal, a former personal banker for Wachovia Bank, has pleaded guilty to committing theft of funds from a bank, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Madrigal, 30, was employed at the Wachovia Bank branch located on the 6800 block of Spencer Highway in Pasadena, Texas.

According to the plea agreement, Madrigal stole more than $112,000 from various accounts belonging to customers of Wachovia Bank. When confronted by bank personnel, Madrigal admitted he took money on several occasions between 2006 and 2009, sometimes in excess of $10,000, to cover his gambling debts.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who accepted madrigal’s plea today, has scheduled sentencing for Aug. 27, 2010. Madrigal faces a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 in addition to making full restitution to the bank.
The matter was investigated by the United States Secret Service and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Buchanan.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2 plead guilty to embezzlement: As much as $400,000 taken from accounts at South Carolina credit union

Two employees of the S.C. Federal Credit Union have admitted to siphoning off as much as $400,000 from inactive accounts that belonged to a dead woman, deployed military personnel and other victims.
With one working as an account manager and the other as a risk management analyst, they carried on their
fraud from 2005 to last fall, when they were fired from their jobs at the lender's Summerville branch.
Robert Tam, 42, of North Charleston, and Jason Nicklous Kizer, 31, of Dorchester, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to embezzlement charges.
Their scheme worked like this: Tam, the risk analyst, found accounts with little or no activity, and Kizer issued bank cards in the names of those customers, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart.
Kizer then used those cards to withdraw cash from automated teller machines not equipped with security cameras, and split the money with Tam, DeHart said.
One customer had died in 1999 and, unbeknownst to her family, continued receiving monthly pension checks from the federal government for $1,600. Tam and Kizer embezzled more than $130,000 from that account through 545 ATM withdrawals, DeHart said.
He also said the two men took money from accounts belonging to deployed armed-service members, among other people. DeHart did not elaborate.
As part of his work with the anti-fraud department, Tam could credit accounts for losses.
That proved to be the duo's undoing.
DeHart said Tam returned $20,000 to an account from which he and Kizer had stolen, touching off an investigation within the credit union.
Scott Woods, S.C. Federal's president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday that suspicious transactions "suggested improper activity on the part of employees."
The FBI conducted surveillance and, in October, agents caught Kizer withdrawing $500 from an ATM and immediately afterward meeting Tam in the parking lot.
The credit union fired the men that day, and the next week the FBI served a search warrant on Kizer's safe-deposit box, which contained about $50,000 in cash, according to DeHart.
He said Kizer confessed and implicated Tam, who also confessed.
A grand jury indicted the two men in December.
DeHart said the pair made off with between $200,000 and $400,000, and that the amount for restitution should total about $300,000. After DeHart's statement, Tam and Kizer each told U.S. District Judge Sol Blatt Jr., "That's substantially true."
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a second charge of aggravated identity theft. Woods said no customers lost money as a result of the embezzlement.
Tam and Kizer each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Attorneys for both men declined to comment beyond the pleas.
Out on bail, Tam and Kizer likely will be sentenced in four or five months.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sedalia, Missouri woman pleads guilty in credit union embezzlement case

A Sedalia woman pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to stealing $35,000 from customers’ accounts at a credit union where she was employed. Sandra Ann Jeffers, 49, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty to a federal charge of embezzlement by a credit union employee, according to a news release from the Office of the United States Attorney, Western District of Missouri, in Kansas City.
During an annual audit of Pittsburgh Corning Glassworkers Credit Union in April of 2009, auditors discovered a discrepancy. Jeffers, who was the manager at the credit union, admitted that she had cut checks from various customers’ accounts. Jeffers used credit union checks made out to herself then endorsed and deposited or cashed the fraudulent checks on her account at another credit union, the release stated.
Jeffers admitted that between February 2008 and March 2009 she transferred money from the accounts of four customers on 23 separate occasions. The amounts ranged from $35 to $5,000 for a loss of approximately $35,000. The loss was reimbursed to the four customers’ accounts by the National Credit Union Administration.
Jeffers is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $1 million and an order of restitution.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and the Sedalia Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Guilty plea ends Isle bank scandal in Hawaii

Former American Savings Bank supervisor Marylin P. Demotta yesterday pleaded guilty to two theft charges, effectively ending an internal bank scandal that spawned two million-dollar civil suit settlements and a long-running criminal case. Demotta, 43, reached a plea agreement in which she admitted to two counts of theft of government property. Prosecutors dismissed eight other charges of bank fraud and embezzlement.
Demotta was an assistant manager at the bank's Hawai'i Kai branch in 2004 when she became involved in the personal business affairs of a 92-year-old bank customer, Ada Lim.
Lim and her family later sued the bank, alleging that Demotta used her position to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from Lim.
The former security director of the bank filed a separate suit against American Savings, alleging that his superiors told him not to report Demotta's activities to federal regulators.
American Savings denied wrongdoing, but settled both civil suits for about $1 million each.
Fighting back tears yesterday, Demotta, who now lives on the Mainland, was asked to describe her crimes to U.S. Magistrate-Judge Barry Kurren.
Demotta began to speak at length about her dealings with Lim, saying that the elderly woman had called her many times and asked Demotta to make a short-term investment for her.
Demotta's lawyer, Richard Kawana, then had a whisperered conference with her and she quickly admitted guilt to the two charges against her.
Demotta will be sentenced Aug. 9 by Chief District Judge Susan Oki Mollway.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Shipley said the maximum punishment for Demotta's crimes is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
She is likely to receive a sentence considerably lower than the maximum.
Shipley said Lim was repaid all her money.
Demotta arranged for some $200,000 capital gains tax payments owed by Lim to be deposited in an American Savings account called an I-Plan account, which Demotta opened for Lim, Shipley said.
Demotta's motivation for making those deposits, Shipley said, was to help her bank branch win an internal bank competition for I-Plan deposits.
The branch did win the contest, which resulted in branch employees and supervisors winning cash bonuses of $1,000 to $5,000.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Downtown Tulare, California bank manager faces embezzlement allegations

A downtown Tulare bank manager faces embezzlement allegations, but police won’t say if an arrest was made when officers served a warrant Wednesday morning.

Jeri Sell, the 2008 Tulare Woman of the Year, faces the allegation stemming, in part, from a 2008 lawsuit filed in Tulare County Superior Court. The suit alleges embezzlement involving night deposits at the bank.
“Jeri Sell was the manager,” said attorney Frank Nunes. “One would believe everything that happens is reported to her.”
Nunes is representing Gloria McCauslin, the owner of VIP Pizza, who filed the civil suit.
On Wednesday, Tulare police officers and members of the California Department of Justice served a warrant at the Citizens Business Bank, 256 North K St., but officials wouldn’t comment further.
Tulare police Sgt. Richard House said no additional information was being released.
But according to Tulare City Councilman Phil Vandegrift, the search warrant was served as part of a criminal investigation. Sell’s home also was being searched, Vandegrift said.
Sell couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Personnel at the Tulare and Visalia bank branches said they had no comment.
In a released statement, the bank acknowledged the police investigation, but provided no additional information and did not identify Sell as the person being investigated.
“Citizens Business Bank has been made aware that there is a pending criminal investigation of a bank employee,” said Chris Myers, Citizens Business Bank president and CEO. “There is no reason to believe that bank assets are involved, and the bank intends to cooperate fully with the authorities.”
Bank personnel provided no additional information.
Nunes said the police investigation and the lawsuit are separate instances. In the lawsuit, McCauslin alleges $47,000 in unaccounted-for night deposits. She alleges money was stolen before being credited.
She’s also suing for attorney’s fees and emotional stress, Nunes said. A jury trial has been set for July 12.
Although mediation has been attempted, the matter is likely going to trial. At this time, it’s unknown if police officers will testify for the civil lawsuit.
“I don’t know the outcome of their investigation,” he said. “It’s too early to tell.”
But it’s common practice for sworn law enforcement personnel to testify in civil matters, Nunes said.
Vandegrift lamented finding out about the allegations against Sell.
“We hope it’s wrong,” he said. “Jeri has always been a very civic-minded person. But police have to follow up on their investigation. They need to investigate and find out the truth.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oregon woman charged with embezzling money from bank

The former marketing director for Rock River Bank has been charged with embezzling nearly $33,000 from the bank over a three-year span.A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Lynn A. Wilsie, 37, of Oregon, charging her with 12 counts of embezzling $32,904.98 from the bank from July 2006 to June 2009.
Wilsie, according to the indictment, was responsible for handling invoices related to advertising and public relations. The indictment states that Wilsie prepared accounts-payable tickets for payments to the bank’s vendors but used those tickets to issue cashier’s checks payable to others.Wilsie is then alleged to have used those checks to pay for her own personal expenses, including her rent, credit card purchases and the repayment of a personal loan.Wilsie had been an employee at Rock River Bank since 1995.
State banking regulators closed the bank’s four branches — three in Oregon and one in Rockford — July 2.
If convicted, Wilsie could face up to 30 years in prison. She is set to appear in federal court in Rockford at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in front of Judge P. Michael Mahoney.

Lynn Wilsie appeared in Federal Court on September 9, 2010 and when she returns at the end of the month, she's expected to change her plea from not guilty to guilty. Wilsie used to be Vice President and Marketing Director for the old Rock River Bank. She's accused of preparing cashiers checks and then taking the money for her own use. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison and a one-million dollar fine for each of her 12 counts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Former Vermont CEO Gary Ellis Imprisoned for Credit Union Embezzlement

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Gary Ellis, 57, of Newmarket, NH, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Burlington to six months of imprisonment following his guilty plea to a charge that he embezzled money from the River Valley Credit Union, a federally insured credit union. Chief U.S. District Judge William K. Sessions III also ordered that Ellis serve five years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. As conditions of supervised release, Ellis must serve an additional four months of home confinement and pay restitution of between $120,000 and $200,000. The exact amount of restitution will be determined following another hearing. Judge Sessions ordered that Ellis surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on April 28 to begin serving his sentence.

On December 3, 2008, a federal grand jury in Rutland returned a one-count indictment charging Ellis with misappropriating money from his former employer, the River Valley Credit Union of Brattleboro. Until the spring of 2005, Ellis was the Chief Executive Officer of the credit union. The indictment accused Ellis of taking extra salary, bonus and other payments over a period beginning in about January 2001 and continuing through early 2005. Ellis was fired in the spring of 2005.
This case was investigated by the Rutland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ellis is represented by Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Mann. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples

Missouri Bank Teller Busted for Embezzlement

A Missouri bank teller could spend four years in prison for allegedly embezzling more than $80,000 from Commerce Bank depositor accounts.

Sandra Geimer, 37, was indicted March 31 on two counts of felony theft; theft that authorities said totaled about $80,000. The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis said Geimer, a resident of Festus, Mo., took money from customer accounts when working as a teller supervisor at a Commerce Bank branch in Tesson Ferry, southwest of St. Louis.
A federal grand jury indicted her on two aggravated identity theft counts, each of which could result in a two-year prison term and a fine of as much as $1 million.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said several of the victims were elderly or disabled, and did not notice the unauthorized withdrawals until well after they occurred. The alleged withdrawals happened between August 2007 and September 2009, Callahan said.
The case underlines an important part of fighting identity theft. Experts say people should check their bank and credit card accounts routinely, watching for any suspicious activity. That allows any possible theft to be detected and stopped more quickly.
Sandra J. Geimer on June 4 pleaded guilty to charges of embezzling more than $80,000 from customer accounts at the Tesson Ferry Road Branch of Commerce Bank. The thefts occurred between August 2007 and September 2009, according to the United States Attorney's Office.

According to court documents, Geimer was employed by Commerce Bank as a teller supervisor at the Tesson Ferry Branch location, where she had routine interaction with Commerce Bank customers and had access to customer accounts.
Geimer accessed customer accounts and fraudulently withdrew, transferred, and disbursed funds from them without their knowledge or consent, sometimes using demand deposit account (DDA) withdrawal debits.
Some customers were elderly or disabled and were less likely to notice the fraudulent account activity in a timely manner. She sometimes transferred money from one customer's account to another customer's account in an attempt to cover up her fraudulent activity.
Geimer, 37, Festus, pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft by a bank employee. She appeared before U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 8, 2010.
Bank theft carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine. Restitution is mandatory in this case.

Fmr. Grand Rapids bank exec. takes embezzlement plea

A former Ionia County bank executive accused of embezzlement has changed his not-guilty plea in federal court.

Michael Joseph Willett entered a plea agreement Wednesday for embezzling bank funds and aggravated identity theft. As part of the deal, he agreed to plead to one count of theft of bank funds and one count of aggravated identity theft in exchange for 14 other counts being dropped.
He could be sentenced to as long as 30 years in prison and fined $1 million.
Willett originally was charged with embezzling more than $200,000 from First Bank of West Michigan, formerly known as Ionia County National Bank. That figure has been amended to theft of $30,000 but not more than $70,000.
This is the same bank former Belding Mayor Shane Husted pleaded guilty to embezzling from. In February, Husted was sentenced to spend 18 months in federal prison.
Willett is expected to finalize the agreement Thursday

Pewee Valley, Kentucky Man Indicted for Embezzlement

A federal grand jury in Louisville returned an indictment against Michael Glenn Borum, age 31, of Pewee Valley, Kentucky, in Oldham County, on charges of embezzling approximately $40,000 belonging to Your Community Bank while employed as a teller with the bank, United States Attorney Candace G. Hill of the Western District of Kentucky announced today.

The indictment alleges that the embezzlement occurred between March 19, 2009, and June 12, 2009.
In the event of a conviction, the maximum potential penalties are 30 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of five years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jim Lesousky, and it was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Teller, age 19, charged in bank scam: Coloma, Michigan woman is alleged to have embezzled $34K in two months

A young woman who allegedly stole more than $34,000 from customer accounts while she worked for Chemical Bank Shoreline in St. Joseph faces a felony embezzlement charge. Ashley Jones, 19, of Coloma waived a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Berrien County Trial Court on a charge of embezzlement over $20,000. She is free on bond pending a trial set for June 8.
Jones started working for the bank in January and was assigned as a teller to a drive-up window off Main Street, said Berrien County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael Sepic.
During February and March, Jones allegedly wrote counter checks from the accounts of three customers for a total of about $34,000 and cashed them, Sepic said.
Customers reported account withdrawals that they did not make, and the matter was turned over to St. Joseph police. The victims were older customers.
If convicted as charged, Jones would face up to 10 years in prison.

Ex Casper, Wyoming Teller denies conspiracy role

A former bank teller accused of conspiring to commit embezzlement testified on her own behalf Thursday, admitting that she took money from the bank but denying that she discussed it with her co-defendant. Amanda Johnson said she took roughly $1,000 from the downtown branch of Wells Fargo Bank in order to pay bills. Her cash drawer was short on other occasions, she said, but she explained from the witness stand that those instances must have been due to accounting errors.
“I had no idea where it had gone,” she said, referring to a deficit of roughly $1,500 in March. “I had no idea.”
Johnson, who worked at the bank from August 2008 to June, said other times when she came up short — $2,000 and $1,220 — were also due to clerical errors.
To hide the deficits, Johnson said she accepted money from Erin Adamson, another teller at the bank, who would give her money out of her own drawer. Adamson, in turn, would take money out of the bank’s vault to plug her deficit, Johnson said.
In March, Adamson pleaded guilty in federal court to both conspiracy and embezzling about $10,000 from Wells Fargo.
Federal prosecutors have charged Johnson with conspiracy. She has pleaded not guilty. Her trial began Tuesday in the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Courthouse in Casper.
If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Adamson testified during Johnson’s trial Thursday morning.
“We made an agreement to cover each other, but we never made an agreement to take it,” she said of the bank’s money.
Asked later to clarify, she said the pair had an understanding “that I would cover her drawer and I would cover mine out of the day safe.”
According to testimony from both Adamson and Johnson, they both embezzled money, but did so independently of each other.
The government charges that despite the women’s claims that they didn’t know each other was stealing, the ways they covered losses — falsifying audit records, passing money back and forth, dipping into the vault for illegitimate reasons — constitute conspiracy.
When teller drawers were audited, they tried to audit each other’s, according to testimony from both Johnson and Adamson.
"It was the easy way to do it because we both knew the other’s drawer was off,” Adamson said.
Adamson said she remembered on three separate occasions giving Johnson cash out of her drawer to cover deficits of $2,000, $1,500 and $1,220. Later, she said, she made up the differences in her drawer by going to the bank’s safe and getting money.
The safe requires two codes to get inside. Adamson said she used her half of the code with Johnson’s to gain entry. She testified that she initially knew Johnson’s half because another teller had “blurted it out.” However, she also claimed that later she and Johnson specifically exchanged each other’s halves of the code.
Johnson, though, told jurors she never discussed with Adamson sharing their codes.
Another way Adamson said they would make up their shortages was by simulating “buy-sell” transactions.
It is common practice for tellers to exchange money throughout a work day if one of them needs cash to serve customers. This is known as a “buy-sell” transaction, and the acts are supposed to be documented. Both need to be present for this to happen, according to testimony, and both would need to type separate passwords into a computer.
Asked by defense attorney Stefanie Boster if it was possible to get another teller’s password for these transactions, Adamson said it would be difficult, but possible. She claimed to have not had Johnson’s password for “buy-sell” transactions.
In all, more than $60,000 went missing from the bank, according to court documents.
When in-house investigators for Wells Fargo interviewed Johnson, she denied knowing that tens of thousands of dollars were embezzled.
“They asked me if I knew about the $60,000, and I informed them I had no idea about it,” Johnson said.
Both women claim they learned the other was embezzling the day Wells Fargo terminated them — June 17.
The trial was slated to resume with closing arguments this morning. U.S. District Judge William F. Downes is presiding.
A jury of eight men and five women is hearing the case.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Meriden, Kansas Bank Embezzlement Trial Rescheduled

A trial for three people accused of embezzling more than $2 million from a Meriden bank has been rescheduled. .
Scott Becker, Stephanie Smith and Michael Wurm were supposed to attend their jury trial on April 27th.
The three will instead stand trial on January 25th of next year.
The delay will give attorneys a chance to examine the 78,000 pages of court documents.
Becker was the former president of Countryside Bank in Meriden.
Becker, Smith and Wurm are all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit embezzlement of more than $2 million dollars and 33 counts of theft.