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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Former bank executive sentenced for embezzlement in Montana

From the Billings Gazette-

A former vice president at a Montana bank was sentenced to more than nine years in prison after authorities said she embezzled nearly $3.7 million to cover personal debts.
Rhonda Lee Devries, 51, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon in Great Falls.
Devries pleaded guilty in August to bank fraud, embezzlement by a bank officer, credit card fraud and money laundering involving the assets taken from First Security Bank in Malta over nearly a dozen years.
"She tearfully accepted the sentence and expressed profound regret and sorrow for everything she did and took full responsibility for her actions," defense attorney Mark Parker of Billings told The Billings Gazette (
The judge also ordered Devries to pay $3.8 million in restitution and to spend three years on probation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Rostad had sought a 10-year sentence, calling the scheme methodical, devious and sophisticated, and saying it "involved countless acts of theft and deception."
The crime "has seriously jeopardized the continued existence of a community financial institution, thereby putting at risk the futures of the bank's employees, the financial security of its shareholders and the availability of credit for a small agricultural community," Rostad wrote in his sentencing recommendation.
Prosecutors alleged that Devries had managed about $40,000 in debt by transferring it to new credit cards until January 2001, when her application for another account was declined.
During the next several years, she used her position as vice president of operations to open three high-limit credit cards and had accumulated balances totaling nearly $3.4 million when the fraud was discovered last spring, prosecutors said.
Another account opened in June 2011 had a balance of $304,493. Court records indicated that Devries manipulated bank records to cover the crimes, which were discovered in late April by the bank's credit card servicing company.
The bank's directors and owners asked the judge to consider that Devries was a long-term officer, "giving her abundant knowledge to recognize that a theft of this magnitude would jeopardize the bank's existence."
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures most accounts for up to $250,000, so customers' deposits should not be affected by the fraud, court records said.
"There is every indication that First Security of Malta will survive as a bank," state banking commissioner Melanie Hall said. "The bank and its board of directors have taken significant steps to improve the financial condition, including the injection of more than $1 million in capital."

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