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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prison sentence for bank embezzler delayed because of hip surgery in South Dakota

She is almost 68 years old and facing hip surgery -- and Margaret Hussey is going to prison for embezzlement.The Rapid City woman, who pleaded guilty to stealing almost $100,000 and manipulating more than $200,000 in First Western Federal Security Bank funds over a three-year period, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison, with seven years suspended. Seventh Circuit Judge Janine Kern refused to give Hussey the suspended imposition of sentence her attorney requested.The judge also bypassed a court service recommendation for a probationary sentence.Hussey, who is scheduled to have hip surgery Oct. 12, must begin serving her sentence six weeks after the surgery.She will be eligible for parole after nine months in prison.Hussey worked as a bank teller for more than 20 years. Her theft was discovered after she was terminated, according to bank president Jeff Fullerton.Fullerton declined to say why Hussey was fired.
After the sentencing, Fullerton praised the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office for their professionalism in handling the case.Fullerton testified at Hussey’s sentencing, along with Janet Dowlin. Dowlin’s mother and two aunts were among Hussey’s victims.Dowlin said Hussey’s deception was particularly difficult for her. She described the former teller as “like family” to her late mother and two aunts. Hussey and Dowlin grew up together and attended school together, Dowlin said.
Hussey was very good to Dowlin’s elderly mother and aunts, bringing cinnamon rolls for Saturday morning coffee visits -- but all the time she was stealing from them, Dowlin said.According to testimony in court Tuesday, Hussey manipulated interest payments on certificates of deposits and intercepted inquires about accounts.“The idea that she could do this is very upsetting,” Dowlin said.The small, privately owned bank placed considerable trust in its employees and gives them a lot of responsibility, Fullerton testified.Employees can identify their customers by the sound of their voices on the phone, Fullerton said.Hussey laughed and joked with co-workers and customers, while all the time, she was stealing, forging and lying, Fullerton said.
Fullerton accused Hussey of “self-centered greed.” She used the money for travel, eating out, getting her hair fixed and helping her children, he said.Since Hussey’s crime was uncovered, the bank has made many changes and implemented several safeguards.The bank is insured. Customers’ losses were covered, Fullerton said.“The greatest damage was tarnishing the reputation of the bank in the community and with our customers,” Fullerton said, looking directly at Hussey.Hussey’s victims were all elderly, Pennington County deputy state’s attorney Gina Nelson said.Hussey was very good at covering her tracks and did a lot of calculating of interest payments, Nelson said.“She robbed Peter to pay Paul,” Nelson said.Nelson asked Kern to give Hussey a prison sentence, noting that the defendant did not cooperate with the investigation.
Nelson said that Hussey has failed to show “true, genuine remorse” for her crime.Hussey’s actions harmed the community, the bank and the individuals she stole from, 7th Circuit Judge Janine Kern agreed.Hussey’s actions reduced the public’s trust in the bank, Kern said.Kern ordered Hussey to pay back more than $109,000 in restitution. The restitution includes $8,061.30 to the bank, $1,828.50 to the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office and $99,227.88 to the bank’s insurance carrier. Hussey also owes $3,362 in attorney’s fees for her court appointed attorney, plus court costs.Hussey, who has lost her home, is living with a friend.Kern ordered that at least 20 percent of any future income be used for restitution.

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