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Monday, September 19, 2011

Ex-bank official faces embezzlement count in Massachusetts

The former manager of the North Easton Savings Bank on Copeland Drive has been charged in federal court with embezzling more than $175,000 in funds through unauthorized withdrawals from customers' accounts, including one who died a week before she allegedly stole funds from his certificate of deposit account.

Kathleen Didonato, also known as Kathleen O'Connell, of 10 Garfield St., in Foxboro, faces charges of theft by a bank employee, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in U.S. District Court in Boston.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled Aug. 29.

Didonato was an assistant bank manager when she allegedly began withdrawing funds in October 2010 and continued the scheme until January of this year. She was employed by the bank from 2007 until February of this year.

Bank auditors identified 126 fraudulent transactions linked to Didonato, including 32 transactions totaling nearly $70,000 involving withdrawals of cash or bank checks from one couple with an account at the bank, according to an affidavit of an FBI agent filed to support the charges. Didonato used $10,000 she allegedly withdrew from a customer's CD account to pay down a car loan for her 2007 Ford Fusion and another $10,000 from another customer's CD account to buy a 2004 Cadillac CTS luxury sports sedan, according to court records.

In another instance, she allegedly took $12,530 in cash from a customer for a bank check to pay the Emmanuel College tuition of a customer's daughter. But instead of depositing the cash she allegedly stole it and then balanced her ledger by electronically withdrawing funds from another customer's account, according to court records.

When one of the customer's questioned Didonato about missing funds from his account, she allegedly "manipulated the bank's ledger" to cover up a fraudulent withdrawal and gave the customer a print out "to lull him into believing his account was safe," according to court records.

The bank is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and bank president and chief executive officer Tom Deubler said Friday that all the customer accounts are "100 percent" accurate, including those allegedly manipulated by Didonato to perpetuate her crimes.

"Since 1864, no customer has ever lost a penny," Deubler said.

Didonato is free on a $10,000 bond and did not immediately return a telephone call Friday by The Sun Chronicle seeking comment. Her lawyer, a federal public defender, was not available. During the investigation, Didonato allegedly told FBI agents that she was "let go" from North Easton Savings Bank for "sloppiness" in performing her job. She allegedly told the agents she kept all of her passwords at her work station under her mouse pad, according to court records.

Didonato also allegedly stole the agents she bought her Cadillac from a customer at the bank and paid for it by trading in her Ford. When confronted about the alleged misapplication and embezzlement of account holder funds at the bank, Didonato declined to answer more questions without a lawyer present, according to court records.

The complaint was filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston July 25.

According to court records, both sides are in plea negotiations to resolve the case.

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