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Friday, June 14, 2013

Once-trusted bank worker sent to prison in California

Mary Helen Perez, 50, of Sanger, has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill to two years and three months in prison for stealing and embezzling from a federally insured bank, says U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.
Ms. Perez was also ordered to pay $249,793 in restitution to the bank.
According to court documents, Ms. Perez was the assistant customer service manager at Westamerica Bank in Sanger, where she had worked for 29 years.
Over a four-year period, she made approximately 78 cash withdrawals from seven customers’ bank accounts without their knowledge or authorization, targeting customers she believed trusted her, court records show.
She withdrew funds from their bank accounts by filling out withdrawal slips and forging their signatures or writing an “X” on the signature line. Ms. Perez spent the overwhelming majority of the embezzled funds at casinos and for other personal expenses.
The trusted, veteran, bank worker took several steps to hide her embezzlement from the bank and her victims, including telling some of the customers who questioned her about the unauthorized withdrawals that there would be fees charged for investigating the account discrepancies. Ms. Perez also sought to conceal her embezzlement by putting some of the victims’ bank statements on hold status so she would receive them at the bank, where she destroyed them.

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