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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lowville, New York files suit against its bank

As expected, the town of Lewis has filed a lawsuit against its bank claiming it was culpable in the embezzlement of more than $250,000 by the town's ex-bookkeeper."The loss of monies incurred by Plaintiff was due to the negligence and bad faith on the part of the Defendant, Community Bank," according to a state Supreme Court lawsuit filed Thursday in the Lewis County clerk's office.Utica attorney C. Louis Abelove, who is representing the town in the case, on Wednesday also filed a lawsuit seeking repayment of $250,348.28, plus interest and legal fees, from Melissa L. Wagner-Dano and her husband, Douglas J. Dano.
The town is seeking reimbursement of the stolen money, plus interest and legal fees incurred, according to both lawsuits.And, according to Mr. Abelove, town officials aren't too particular about who would pay them back."We think the town should get its money back," he said. "If any of the parties want to step up to the plate and pay the town, the town will be happy to receive it."Ms. Wagner-Dano, 34, in April pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, to wire fraud, admitting that she embezzled $400,000 to $1 million from January 2007 through November 2009 from the town, the Oneida-Lewis Dairy Cooperative and the Boonville Farm Cooperative.She could receive up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 at her sentencing Sept. 21. Restitution also is expected to be ordered by the federal court, although civil judgments could offer a better chance of recouping the money.The town has seven accounts at the Community Bank branch in Boonville, including savings, checking and capital-project funds for both general and highway, as well as a trust and agency fund for payroll, the lawsuit states."Community Bank N.A. has fully cooperated with the authorities, and we are referring all inquiries to law enforcement," Hal Wentworth, a spokesman for the DeWitt-based bank, wrote in an e-mail to the Times.Ms. Wagner-Dano, between November 2008 and December 2009, transferred funds between accounts of the town and the two cooperatives, for which she also served as bookkeeper, "for the ultimate purpose of committing these funds to her own use," the suit states.However, the town alleges that most of its funds were drained after April 2009, when Ms. Wagner-Dano established an Intuit QuickBooks software payroll program for the town. She then signed up for online banking through Community Bank, falsely listed the two cooperatives as town employees, made online money transfers from other town accounts to the payroll account, "paid" the cooperatives and withdrew the money from their accounts, the suit states.The town claims that in order to avoid detection, she directed the bank to stop sending paper statements to the town and instead "send e-statements to her Internet account to keep the Town Supervisor from reviewing them."Given its long history with the town, the bank should have known that the extensive transactions were unusual and that the cooperatives were not town employees or regular business partners, the lawsuit states.The town claims bank officials also should have known that it hadn't authorized online bank transfers or ever before used them and that the supervisor and deputy supervisor are the only ones authorized to sign checks from its bank accounts.
As town bookkeeper, Ms. Wagner-Dano prepared payroll checks for the signature of the supervisor and created balance sheets and financial reports but was not authorized to sign checks or approve expenditures, the lawsuit states.

Efforts made to ‘resolve’ bank embezzlement in Adrian, Michigan

A hearing in an alleged embezzlement of more than $150,000 from OSB Community Bank’s Onsted branch was adjourned a month to give the defense time to review audit reports and other evidence.Adrian attorney Stanley Sala was recently hired by long-time bank employee Sylvia Anita Wallace to defend her against an embezzlement charge. A public defender was appointed to represent Wallace when she was arraigned Aug. 6 in Lenawee County District Court.Sala was granted a motion on Monday to adjourn Wallace’s preliminary examination to Sept. 20. There is a large volume of documents and reports to review, he said.“We want to verify the accounting,” Sala said.OSB Community Bank had a forensic audit conducted after internal auditing in June revealed a large sum of money missing from the Onsted branch. The bank reported an amount between $150,000 and $200,000 was taken at least since Dec. 1 through June 23, said Lenawee County Undersheriff James Anderson.The investigation immediately focused on Wallace because of her position of being in charge of the branch’s vault, Anderson said.“She has cooperated,” he said after her arraignment. Sala said Wednesday that Wallace is continuing to cooperate.“Sylvia, of course, is making every effort to resolve this in the best interest of the bank, and is considerate of how she is affecting everybody,” Sala said. “It is extremely regretful and sorrowful.”Sala said Wallace is concerned about her former co-workers. “All these employees she worked with are good people. Good, honorable people,” Sala said. The embezzlement case has caused bank customers to question the impact of the loss.The bank issued a statement even before Wallace was arraigned, assuring customers and shareholders that no individuals lost any money and that OSB Community Bank remains financially sound.“No customer or shareholder lost money in this event, and no other details are forthcoming at this time. OSB Community Bank is well capitalized and is a strong community bank established in 1907,” said the statement by Charles Maurer, OSB Community Bank president and CEO.The charge Wallace now faces, embezzlement $100,000 or more, carries a maximum 20-year prison term. She remains free on personal recognizance while awaiting a preliminary examination next month.
A third adjournment was granted Tuesday in Lenawee County District Court for a preliminary examination in the case of an Onsted woman accused of embezzling more than $150,000 from the Onsted branch of OSB Community Bank.

The hearing for Sylvia Anita Wallace, 45, was rescheduled for Dec. 13 after a defense attorney and prosecutor agreed to the delay. The two sides are working toward agreements that may resolve the case. She remains free on personal recognizance.

Wallace was arraigned Aug. 12 on a charge of embezzlement $100,000 or more, a felony carrying a maximum 20-year prison term. She allegedly took money from the bank at least since Dec. 1 last year. An investigation was started in June after discrepancies in bank records were discovered.

Bank officials have said no customers have lost any money.

Fostoria, Ohio woman enters guilty plea to Key Bank embezzlement

A 52-year-old Fostoria woman has entered a guilty plea to a charge she embezzled 29-thousand dollars from a Fostoria Key Bank branch. Mona Simpson DiCesare entered the plea in U-S District Court in Toledo. DiCesare had been ruled competent to stand trial., and had been released on bond on the condition she agrees to psychiatric evaluation and counseling. The embezzlement, over a three-year period, is being investigated by the FBI.

Greenville, South Carolina Loan Officer Sentenced For Embezzlement

A woman who worked for a Greenville bank for more than 20 years pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing a half a million dollars from her employer. Kimberly McAbee, 45, was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
McAbee worked for Arthur State Bank in Woodruff from 1988 until December 2009, according to evidence presented at the change of plea hearing. Investigators said McAbee embezzled about $520,000 from the bank by manipulating home equity lines of credit and mortgage loans held by family members and friends. To hide her activities, McAbee accessed the bank's expense and Freddie Mac accounts to move funds around and conceal the theft, they said. McAbee's supervisor discovered the discrepancies on Christmas Eve, 2009, and reported it to law enforcement, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The FBI investigated the matter and interviewed McAbee in February 2010. McAbee admitted to using her position with the bank to embezzle funds. She expressed regret for her actions and claimed that she intended to pay back the bank all the money. The case was heard by Senior United States District Judge G. Ross Anderson, Jr.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Employee charged with stealing more than $150,000 from Onsted, Michigan bank

An Onsted woman was charged Thursday with embezzling more than $150,000 from a bank branch in the village where she was a longtime employee.An investigation of funds discovered missing in June brought OSB Community Bank teller Sylvia Anita Wallace, 45, into Lenawee County District Court. She was arraigned on a felony charge of embezzlement of more than $100,000.A public defender was assigned to represent Wallace at an Aug. 23 preliminary examination after she told the court she could not afford to hire an attorney. She remains free on personal recognizance.Wallace could face a maximum 20-year prison term if convicted of the embezzlement charge.A statement issued by Sheriff Jack Welsh said an investigation that led to Wallace’s arrest began in late June. He said OSB Community Bank officials reported discovering major discrepancies during a routine internal audit.Welsh said Wallace was suspected “due to her position at the bank, and subsequent investigation confirmed her involvement.”Wallace was in charge of the branch’s vault as well as being a teller, said Undersheriff James Anderson, and that fact focused the investigation on her.“She has cooperated,” Anderson said. None of the missing funds, however, have been recovered, he said. An amount between $150,000 and $200,000 was reported missing by bank officials.According to court documents, the money was allegedly taken between Dec. 1 and June 23. The embezzlement, however, may have occurred over a longer period of time, Anderson said.No customers or shareholders lost any money in the embezzlement, said a news release issued by Charles Maurer, OSB Community Bank president and CEO.“OSB Community Bank is well capitalized and is a strong community bank established in 1907,” Maurer said in the written statement. The bank is not releasing details of the incident at the Onsted branch, he stated.Welsh also said in his statement that no bank customers lost any funds and that OSB Community Bank is continuing normal operations.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Former First Security exec pleads guilty to fraud in Chicago

A former vice president at First Security Trust & Savings Bank — an Elmwood Park-based lender that's part of the Wirtz family conglomerate — pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of federal bank fraud. Jeffrey Gonsiewski, who was charged last month, admitted that he changed the terms of at least 100 loans for more than 50 customers to make it appear that their payments were current when in fact they were overdue. His "scheme to defraud" occurred from September 2004 through February 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice said.His actions caused the $220.6 million-asset bank to lose at least $5.5 million because the lender was unable to take timely action to collect on the delinquent loans and protect its assets.
Gonsiewski's lawyer declined to comment.First Security was founded in 1946. Its president is Rocky Wirtz, whose family also owns the Chicago Blackhawks and Wirtz Beverage Group. The family also has an interest in First National Bank of South Miami.First Security said it was "disappointed in the conduct" outlined in the case."We are pleased the matter has been brought to a conclusion and are grateful for the assistance we received from the authorities," said Earl Farkas, a Gozdecki Del Giudice Americus & Farkas LLP lawyer representing First Security.Gonsiewski, 56, of Wood Dale, faces a maximum 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, but a written plea agreement includes a federal sentencing guideline of 51 to 78 months in prison. The court also must order mandatory restitution. Gonsiewski, who could not be reached for comment, is to be sentenced Dec. 3.First Security was well-capitalized as of March 31, but it lost $157,000 in the first quarter. Nearly 40 percent of its loans are seriously delinquent, up from nearly 20 percent in the same period a year ago.The number of Chicago-area banks with Texas ratios of at least 100 percent in the first quarter stood at 38.The Texas ratio tallies up a bank's severely past-due loans and foreclosed real estate and compares them with the bank's core capital, typically shareholders' equity, and money set aside for potential loan losses. When the result exceeds 100, the bank has serious troubles. As of the first quarter, First Security's Texas ratio was 111.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blind justice: 10 years for former Alabama bank clerk

A Decatur woman who stole thousands from a blind woman’s bank account stood poised with her attorney seeking probation for a first-degree theft conviction, but a judge gave her prison time Monday.“Your record is clean, but there are some things I can’t get over, and this is one of them. I’m sentencing you to 10 years in prison,” Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson told Kerry Bozell during her sentencing hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Stacy Adams asked the judge to consider Bozell’s denial of a confession she gave investigators in contemplating her sentence.“I don’t know any other way to put it, judge: She lied,” Adams said.Bozell’s attorney, Hubert Porter, said he would appeal the case. Thompson set an appeal bond of $30,000. Deputies took Bozell to the County Jail pending her posting bail on the bond.A jury convicted Bozell, 45, in April of first-degree theft involving money she embezzled from Gwendolyn “Gwen” Lamon, a 79-year-old blind woman. Bozell, of 1002 Way Thru the Woods, was Lamon’s personal banker at the downtown Regions Bank location.Testimony during Bozell’s trial revealed that Lamon’s caregivers found discrepancies in her bank accounts.The caregivers and Lamon arranged a meeting with the bank’s president, who instructed the bank’s security manager to investigate. The manager arranged a setup to catch Bozell during a transaction. Lamon and a caregiver went to the bank June 4, 2009, to withdraw $750. They did so and Bozell added $1,000 more than the requested amount, but did not give it to Lamon, according to testimony. The security manager confronted Bozell 30 minutes later and searched her purse, but didn’t find the extra money. He searched her desk drawer and found customer receipts that she had not given to Lamon as the bank requires. Bozell had used the embezzlement scheme, stealing from Lamon’s account between March and June 2009, authorities said. Decatur Police Detective Justin Lyon probed the theft and ultimately arrested Bozell on July 8. A grand jury later indicted her. Lyon said Bozell confessed she stole the money because she feared her husband was going to lose his job.During her trial, outside the jury’s presence, she denied making the statement.The bank reimbursed $9,500 to Lamon. During Bozell’s sentencing Monday, Thompson ordered her to pay that amount in restitution to the bank.

Former Connecticut bank supervisor charged with embezzling customers' money

A former bank teller supervisor from Kent is facing criminal charges for allegedly embezzling $13,000 from one of her customers.Rocio A. Trinidad, 28, 310 South Kent Road, was arrested on a warrant Friday after police said she admitted to embezzling $13,400 from the account of Walter R. Edeen, a customer she assisted while employed at a Webster Bank branch in Kent.According to court documents, Edeen, who has since died, gave Trinidad small monetary gifts ranging from $20 to $100. Beginning in October 2009, however, she began conducting transactions not authorized by Edeen, police said, allegedly taking out between $100 and $3,000 on various occasions between Oct. 16 and April 30.She also would allegedly adjust withdrawal slips that Edeen filled out. If he requested $800 she would place a three in front of that, creating a total $3,800, the woman allegedly admitted to police. Then she would take the $3,000 for herself and give Edeen the $800 he requested, court documents stated.She was eventually terminated on July 2 from her job at the Kent bank branch, after being approached about the matter, court documents stated.On July 17 Kenneth Willard, senior vice president and director of financial intelligence for Webster Bank, N.A., brought the case to police after he had been contacted by Edeen’s family, police said.When police confronted Trinidad, the woman allegedly admitted to the operation. She said she did not accept the tips at first because of Webster Bank’s policy, but after going through some financial hardships with her children, mortgage and other expenses she began taking the tips. Then, she admitted to making the unauthorized withdrawals, her warrant affidavit stated.Police said there were at least four of the withdrawal slips she signed with Edeen’s name at the bottom, court documents stated.Trinidad is facing one count of second-degree larceny and three counts of third-degree forgery.Trinidad turned herself in to the state police Troop L barracks on Friday. After appearing in Bantam Superior Court on a $10,000 bond, Judge Cara Eschuk released Trinidad on a promise to appear back on Sept. 8.She was also ordered to remain at her current address while the case is pending.

Louisiana bank worker gets prison for embezzlement

A Lafayette man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for embezzling money from Chase Bank customers.A federal judge on Monday sentenced 30-year-old Christopher P. Smith to 41 months in prison and ordered him to pay $228,350 in restitution to the bank.Smith was a personal banker at a Chase Bank branch in Lafayette and was responsible for opening and managing customers' accounts. Prosecutors said he made $231,000 in unauthorized withdrawals from customer accounts for his personal use.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ex-Naugatuck Savings Bank exec pleads guilty to embezzlement in Connecticut

A former bank vice president pleaded guilty Friday to embezzling more than $1 million from the bank over eight years of working there.Federal authorities say 48-year-old Robert A. Nixon, of East Haven, was the vice president of operations of the bank when it was known as Castle Bank and Trust, which merged with Naugatuck Savings Bank in 2009.The fraud was discovered last year after Nixon severed ties with the bank and the merger was completed, according to authorities.Nixon was working in Castle's Middletown office when he began to funnel funds from the bank's account, then cooked the books to cover his tracks, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Robert A. Nixon, 48, of Maynard Road, East Haven, pleaded guilty today in New Haven to one count of theft, embezzlement, or misapplication by a bank officer or employee, and one count of income tax evasion.

The charges stem from Nixon’s embezzlement of more than $1 million from the former Castle Bank and Trust of Middletown, now Naugatuck Savings Bank, while he was Vice President there.According to court documents and statements made in court, while Nixon was Vice President of Operations of Castle Bank and Trust between 2000 and 2008, he made or caused other bank personnel to make computer entries that transferred funds from Castle’s general account into a friend’s personal savings and checking accounts at the bank.Nixon then either withdrew cash from his friend’s account or had his friend take money out and give it to him. H also directed his friend to transfer funds by check from the Castle account to accounts that his friend held at other banks, and then withdraw the cash and give it to Nixon.The total amount of money embezzled through this scheme was $1,039,227.34.In order to hide his theft, Nixon used his position to cause false entries to be made in Castle’s general account and “reprocess” official Castle bank checks that had already been cashed by the respective payees and debited by Castle, which caused an additional debit to appear in the general account.Nixon used the money to make mortgage payments, personal credit card payments, car payments, home improvements, and also to gamble.The fraud was discovered after Nixon left the bank in August 2009, and after the parent company of Naugatuck Savings Bank had acquired Castle.
He also failed to pay federal taxes on the funds that he embezzled. For the 2002 through 2008 tax years, this resulted in an underpayment of $268,784 to the Internal Revenue Service.Nixon is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton on October 25. He faces a maximum sentence of 35 years and fine of up to approximately $2 million. He also will be ordered to pay $1,039,227.34 in restitution to Naugatuck bank, as well as full restitution to the IRS, plus applicable interest and penalties.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Former bank manager in San Jose headed to jail for embezzlement

A former bank manager at a Well Fargo in San Jose has pleaded guilty to elder fraud and forgery in connection with embezzling money from bank customers.Deputy DA Sherry Boulard says John Tran befriended clients of the bank branch on Lincoln Ave and visited them at their home to gain their trust. Tran will serve six years in prison and agreed to pay more than $550-thousand dollars in restitution. Police suspect the actual amount stolen is nearly $1-million dollars, but those allegations weren't proved and as a result weren't charged.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Forsyth, Montana woman pleads guilty to bank embezzlement

A former bank teller has pleaded guilty to embezzling $84,000 from Wells Fargo Bank in Forsyth.The U.S. attorney's office says 31-year-old Courtney M. Batey pleaded guilty Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 4.Prosecutors say the investigation into Batey began when a customer complained in June 2009 that she was shorted $5,000 when she redeemed to certificates of deposit.Further investigation found another bank customer Batey worked with was missing thousands of dollars from her accounts.Batey told investigators that from October 2007 through June 2009 she stole cash out of her teller drawer and replaced the money with funds she took from customer accounts. An audit found that Batey embezzled about $84,000.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fostoria, Ohio Resident Charged with Bank Embezzlement

Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, today announced the filing of an information charging Mona Simpson Dicesare, age 52, of Fostoria, Ohio, with embezzling approximately $29,000.00 over a three-year period from the KeyBank. If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to each 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. The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas A. Karol.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.