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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Woman faces embezzlement charges in West Virginia

A woman accused of stealing $5,000 from an area credit union appeared in Hancock County Magistrate Court on Friday.

Marsha Ford, 59, of New Cumberland, was charged earlier this month on one count of embezzlement, a felony, for allegedly taking $5,000 in cash from her employer, First Choice America Community Federal Credit Union in Chester. Ford was an assistant branch manager at the Chester location.

Ford came under suspicion after $5,000 turned up missing from the credit union's vault on May 3, according to a criminal complaint filed by West Virginia State Police Cpl. L.M. Roberts.

Ford and two other managers were questioned about the missing money, and all three denied taking it, the complaint said. The vault is a dual control area in which no one person is supposed to disburse cash without a second person being present, the complaint said.

On the day the money turned up missing, that protocol was not followed, the complaint said. There was no surveillance camera footage of the vault on that day either, the complaint said.

Ford allegedly confessed to the theft in a meeting with state police on Sept. 9, saying she was having financial difficulties at home, the complaint said. She said she was sorry and would pay it back, according to the complaint.

Ford is free on a $5,000 surety bond and had a pre-trial conference before Magistrate Michael Powell on Friday

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Portland bank official blames Vicodin addiction for stealing money from vault, customer accounts in Oregon

The former operations manager of Portland's Rivergate Federal Credit Union was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on Monday for systematically embezzling $408,062.38 from the bank.

Jade Carnahan, appearing before U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez, accepted responsibility for her crimes. She blamed her actions on a serious addiction to Vicodin, a painkiller composed of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

The 35-year-old Scappoose resident faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for bank larceny at the North Portland credit union. She pleaded guilty in April to stealing from its bank vault and customer accounts, including the funds of senior citizens.

Her embezzlement began in 2005 and ended in 2012, according to the U.S. attorney's office for Oregon.

Gregory A. Fowler, Oregon's top FBI official, said Carnahan was in a position of trust to guard the very money she stole.

"She broke that trust, using her access as a bank employee to feed a drug habit," Fowler said. "Addiction to prescription pain killers can be just as devastating as street drugs, such as crack and heroin."

Former Beavercreek Bank Branch Manager Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement in Ohio

 Diane Elizabeth Niehaus, 40, of Beavercreek, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one count each of embezzlement, money laundering, and filing a false income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for her scheme to embezzle thousands of dollars from the accounts of customers of the branch bank she managed in Centerville, Ohio.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office; and Kevin R. Cornelius, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, announced the guilty pleas entered before U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.

According to court documents, Niehaus managed the Union Savings Bank branch in Centerville between 2007 and 2010. Using her position with USB, Niehaus created fraudulent withdrawal slips to withdraw thousands of dollars in funds from multiple customer accounts using cashier’s checks or official checks she wrote to herself between 2008 and 2010. Niehaus illegally earned thousands of dollars through this embezzlement scheme, and she failed to report this fraudulently obtained income on her federal income tax returns.

“As we often see, the victims are not only the taxpayers but also the individuals and entities who suffer the financial harm,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “This investigation is a direct result of the excellent partnership IRS, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has in combating violations of federal law.”

Embezzlement is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Money laundering carries a potential penalty up to 20 years and filing a false tax return has a sentence ranging up to three years in prison. The court can also impose fines and order her to pay the costs of prosecution associated with the false tax return charge. A sentencing hearing is set for January 9, 2014.

The court will conduct its own investigation prior to sentencing Niehaus, including determining the actual amount of loss to victims.

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by special agents of the FBI and IRS, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Tabacchi, who is prosecuting the case. U.S. Attorney Stewart also acknowledged the cooperation of U.S. Bank in the investigation.

Former Hartsburg State Bank president headed to federal prison in Illinois

Bryson John Russell, 66, of Lincoln pleaded guilty in February to stealing money from the bank, starting in 1992, three years after he was named president. In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, prosecutors outlined 19 loans Russell took out starting in 2001 in the names of various bank customers. The loans ranged from $1,000 to $124,000.

“When those loans became due, Russell would create different, larger loans in names of relatives and other bank customers to pay off those due, as well as to embezzle additional money,” according to a sentencing commentary written by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Hansen.

The former bank executive also cashed a $15,000 certificate of deposit belonging to a bank customer and applied the proceeds to a loan he had taken out in another customer’s name, according to Hansen.

After he was removed as president, Russell agreed to answer federal investigators’ questions about shortfalls in accounts with a Texas bank that handled deposits and payments to other financial institutions on behalf of the Hartsburg bank.

Russell admitted to making false entries to cover up for cash he took from the bank’s vault, according to court documents.

The loss involved more than money, the prosecutor said in his sentencing comments.

“It is incredibly troubling when the perpetrator is in charge of all of the daily operations of the bank. Particularly in a small town, such as Hartsburg, the trust of the citizens is critical for the operation of a financial institution.”

Given the condition of Russell’s personal finances, it is unlikely he will be able to make full restitution, the prosecutor noted.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Former Bank Manager Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement, Money Laundering, False Tax Return in Ohio

A former bank brand manager has pleaded guilty to embezzlement, money laundering and filing a false income tax return.

Diane Elizabeth Niehaus, 40, of Beavercreek embezzled thousand of dollars from customer accounts at the Union Savings Bank in Centerville.

Niehaus managed the bank from 2007 to 2010.  According to the report, she created fraudulent withdrawal slips from multiple customer accounts using cashier's checks or official checks she wrote to herself between 2008 and 2010.  It's believed she made thousands of dollars through the scheme and failed to report the income on her federal income tax returns.

The court will conduct its own investigation prior to sentencing. 
A sentencing hearing is set for January 9, 2014.

A former Centerville Union Savings Bank manager on Thursday pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzlement, money laundering and filing a false tax return after fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars from multiple victims.
Diane Niehaus, 40, could be sentenced Jan. 9 in front of U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black. The guilty plea to a bill of information does not include an agreed-upon sentence and more victims could come forward before a pre-sentence investigation report is prepared.
The maximum prison sentence Niehaus could receive if the three counts were served consecutively is 53 years with a fine of at least $1.75 million.
Wearing a black suit and free on her own recognizance, Niehaus' voice sometimes cracked as she answered Black's questions and said, "Guilty" as to her plea. Niehaus was represented by Thomas Anderson, a federal public defender.
Court documents said Niehaus "embezzled thousands of dollars in funds from multiple USB customer accounts between 2008 and 2010." To conceal and disguise the embezzled funds, documents state Niehaus converted the money into cashiers' checks or official checks that she then negotiated or caused to be negotiated at her bank or other locations

Monday, September 16, 2013

Former Wiggins bank teller admits embezzling more than $200K in Mississippi

 The former lead teller of the Bank of Wiggins has admitted embezzling more than $200,000.
Veronica Morse, 38, pleaded guilty Monday before Judge Larry Bourgeois in Stone County Circuit Court.
Bourgeois ordered Morse returned to jail pending sentencing on Thursday.
Bank employees began noticing suspicious activity in late 2012. They found Morse had created tickets for fictitious cash transactions and entered the transactions in the bank's computer system so the books appeared to be balanced, Smith said.
A bank audit showed Morse took thousands of dollars in several transactions over 1- 1/2 years.
Morse was arrested in December.
Smith said several bank employees attended her plea hearing and told the court the effect her actions had on them personally and professionally. Some of them wept as they talked about how Morse had betrayed their trust.

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Friday, September 13, 2013


 A former southwest Missouri bank branch manager pleaded guilty to bank fraud in the theft of more than $316,000 from elderly customers' accounts.

Thirty-three-year-old Jennifer Gunter, of Republic, also pleaded guilty Thursday to not reporting the embezzled income on her taxes.

Gunter was the branch manager at the Guaranty Bank in Nixa until she was fired in November 2012.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Gunter admitted that she repeatedly took money from bank accounts of four elderly bank customers and used the money for personal expenses.

Prosecutors say Gunter set the accounts to "do not mail" to prevent the customers from receiving their bank statements and discovering the thefts.

Gunter faces a sentence of up to 33 years without parole, a fine up to $1.1 million and paying restitution.

Gunter waived her right to a grand jury indictment and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to bank fraud and filing a false income tax return.  The Internal Revenue Service estimates it’s owed about $50,000 because she under-reported her income from the thefts by $258,000 total, over several tax years.

The plea agreement says Gunter "submitted transaction tickets, withdrawal slips, and cashier’s
checks that withdrew monies from the bank accounts of L.O., G.F., F.F.T., and F.N., which purported to have the signature of the account holder or an authorized signatory  who  approved the transaction and withdrawal of monies." It also says she changed the status of the customers' accounts so they wouldn't get mailed statements, keeping them from discovering the thefts.

The plea agreement doesn't specify what a judge will order Gunter’s sentence to be.  She could get up to 30 years in prison plus a fine up to $1 million for bank fraud, and up to a three-year sentence plus a fine up to $100,000 fine for filing a false return.  Gunter probably will get less than that, however, because she pleaded guilty and didn't force prosecutors to seek an indictment or go to trial.  She could also be ordered to make restitution to the customers, the IRS or both.

The charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office say the thefts happened in Greene and Christian counties, where Gunter worked for Guaranty Bank.   Gunter is not in jail as she awaits her sentencing hearing, which is not scheduled.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bank Board Oversight: The Case for a Separate Risk Committee


Risk oversight by bank boards of directors continues to evolve, driven largely by proposed requirements, mandates and guidance issued by regulators and industry bodies, most notably, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Federal Reserve’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) on enhanced prudential supervision (EPS).

Organizations that fall under the Federal Reserve’s EPS mandate will be required to establish a standalone risk committee that operates under a formal written charter approved by the company’s board of directors. They include banks with greater than $50 billion in assets, banks with greater than $10 billion in revenues that are publicly traded and any non-bank financial company designated as systemically important. “In effect, the NPR places risk on par with audit and compensation as issues that warrant board committees,” says Scott Baret, Deloitte & Touche LLP’s global leader of Enterprise Risk Services for the Financial Services Industry practice.

For the boards at smaller banks, however, the decision of whether or not to form a separate risk committee remains under discussion; some have chosen to house the risk oversight function within the audit committee rather than establish another board committee. Supporters of a dual-function committee say it can help avoid potential overlap and gaps in oversight responsibility between separate risk and audit committees. But others argue such a move adds to the burdens of already heavily tasked audit committees, and that the knowledge, experience and time required for risk oversight tend to favor the establishment of a standalone risk committee.

“Audit committees inherently are driven by financial reporting requirements and timelines, and as a result they likely focus on risks related to the integrity of the financial statements,” says Edward Hida, who serves as global leader for Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Risk & Capital Management practice within the Financial Services Industry practice. “It also is possible that audit committees may lack sufficient risk management experience that could cause committee members to overlook some risks,” he adds.

Clarifying the Board’s Risk Oversight Responsibilities

On a fundamental level, risk oversight is a responsibility of the board and stands apart from risk management, which is the responsibility of management. But the board’s risk oversight role can have substantial positive impact on the organization in ways felt across the enterprise. “Generally, when a board establishes a risk committee, it may have several corresponding positive effects on increasing its oversight for risk management,” says Mr. Baret, who also is a member of Deloitte’s Governance, Regulatory & Risk Strategies practice. “Such benefits could include an inherent increase in board attention and resources aimed at risk oversight, more purposeful interaction with management regarding risk matters and an increase in visibility into the organization’s risk management practices, particularly when the CRO and the management risk committee report to the board risk committee.”

For a board risk committee to be effective, its oversight responsibilities should be clearly defined. One way to establish the responsibilities of a risk committee is to use the board charter to define the parameters of the group’s work. Boards that want to establish a risk committee, or existing committees that want to benchmark their responsibilities, can consider the following guidelines:

1. Establish the risk culture of the enterprise. In selecting the CEO and articulating the values of the institution for the senior executives, the board can influence the priorities of risk management enhancements in everyday decision-making and the organization’s approach toward risk and risk management.

2. Promote open discussion regarding risk. Board members may discuss with the CRO, or others within the organization with similar stature and authority for risk management, the threats that are material and to which the organization is most vulnerable. The board may wish to inquire and challenge management about risks that affect decisions, operations, processes, and most importantly, risks of and to the strategy.

3. Provide input on—and approve—the bank’s risk appetite. Risk appetite represents the parameters within which the executive team and business managers (the owners of the risk) manage risk at the enterprise and business unit levels. The board committee should be involved in discussion on risk appetite on a regular basis.

4. Define the issues that require the board’s attention. The board can define the issues and decisions that management should bring to its attention for either informational purposes, review or board approval. These include risks associated with businesses, investments, partners, transactions, employee incentives and developments that could substantially affect the bank, with the board clearly defining “substantially.”

5. Monitor risks and risk management capabilities. The board should consider its role in monitoring the risk profile—the types, levels and concentrations of risk the bank is incurring—and any escalation, concentration of risks and their interrelation. The board should also understand the bank’s business, operations and products well enough to conduct this monitoring. Finally, it should think about how management monitors, mitigates and manages specific risks and communicates about risk in the organization.

6. Obtain reasonable evidence regarding risk management. It is management’s role to identify and continually assess and manage all risks, while the board should be focused on ascertaining whether management has done so. The latter means being confident that management has completed two important tasks: Identifying the relevant risks that could affect the ability of the business to achieve its strategies and preserve its assets, and establishing a risk management infrastructure—the people, processes and technology—to identify, measure, monitor and report on the risks the institution faces. Board risk committee charters should set the framework for the roles and responsibilities of the risk committee so that these activities are accomplished.

Former Fort Smith Bank Official Sentenced For Embezzlement in Arkansas

A former Fort Smith bank official who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from an elderly client was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Thursday.

Mary Kay Newman, 45, who worked at First National Bank in Fort Smith for almost 23 years, pleaded guilty in March to embezzlement and misapplication of funds by a bank employee.

On Thursday, Newman appeared before District Court Judge P.K. Holmes III, who handed down the prison sentence and also ordered Newman to pay a $2,500 fine and $9,260 in restitution and be on two years of supervised probation when she’s released from prison.

In 2009, Fort Smith resident Ruby Pharis purchased two certificates of deposit totaling about $530,000 at Chambers Bank in Fort Smith. When she renewed them a year later, the combined value was about $549,000.

When she required surgery and hospitalization in 2010, Pharis, 90, told federal investigators that power of attorney was necessary for Newman to pay Pharis’ bills while she was medically incapacitated, but she never remembered signing anything that gave Newman authority to cash checks, redeem the CDs or use her money for Newman’s personal benefit, according to a plea agreement.

Pharis and her late husband came to know Newman as customers of the Phoenix Village branch of First National Bank, where Newman worked from 2002 until she was fired Dec. 29, 2011.

According to court documents, on Jan. 19, 2011, Newman converted Pharis’ CDs at Chambers Bank in Fort Smith into six cashier’s checks totaling almost $560,000, kept $160,000 for her personal benefit and purchased two CDs in Pharis’ name for $300,000 and $100,000, according to court documents.

In March 2011, Newman converted the $100,000 to a cashier’s check, cashed it at First National and kept the funds, minus penalty for early withdrawal.

In June 2011, Newman cashed in the $300,000 CD held at Chambers and opened a savings account in Pharis’ name at First National, before withdrawing $85,000 for her own use between June and November 2011.

The missing money was discovered in December 2011, when Pharis became concerned she wasn’t receiving bank statements from First National, according to court documents.

According to an auditor at First National Bank, all of Pharis’ funds were recovered, minus about $8,800 in lost interest and early withdrawal penalties and about $2,500 in legal expenses, according to court documents.

Pharis died March 25, less than a week after Newman pleaded guilty.

Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Mary Kay Newman, 45, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, two years of supervised release, ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, and $9,260.23 in restitution for embezzling $559,000 from an elderly bank customer. The sentencing took place before the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “Not only did the defendant abuse her position of trust, but she also preyed upon one of the most vulnerable members of our community—an elderly widow—in a scheme devised for the sole purpose of benefiting herself. With the hard work of the FBI and this office, this individual has been held accountable, and a statement has been made that those who swindle the elderly and others out of money will be brought to justice.”

“The fact that Ms. Newman took advantage of her elderly customer by stealing from her during the most vulnerable times in her life—after she had lost her spouse and while she was hospitalized—represents greed at its worst,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman. “I commend the agents and prosecutors whose hard work resulted in Ms. Newman being held accountable for her actions.”

According to court records, Newman was an employee of First National Bank in Fort Smith, Arkansas, from 1989 until December 29, 2011. Ruby Pharis, who was approximately 89 years old on the date of the offense, banked at the Phoenix Village location and became acquainted with Newman. In September 2002, Mrs. Pharis’s husband died, and she continued to regularly come in contact with Newman. In 2009, Mrs. Pharis purchased two certificates of deposit at Chambers Bank in Fort Smith that had the combined value of $530,189.90. On January 12, 2010, she renewed those certificates, which at that time had a combined value of $548,719.47.

In 2010, Mrs. Pharis required surgery and hospitalization, and Newman advised her that it was necessary for her to sign a power of attorney to Newman so that her bills could be paid while she was incapacitated. Mrs. Pharis did not give Newman authority to make any other financial decisions. Beginning in January 2011, Newman then proceeded to structure several financial transactions without Mrs. Pharis’s knowledge for the purpose of obtaining funds for her personal use. On January 19, 2011, Newman converted the certificates of deposit into six cashier’s checks. On January 20, Newman cashed two cashier’s checks at First National Bank in the total amount of $159,99.27. On January 21, Newman converted the remaining checks into two certificates of deposit at Chambers Bank in the name of Mrs. Pharis. On March 21, Newman converted one certificate of deposit into a cashier’s check worth, after an early withdrawal penalty, $99,637.50, which she then cashed at First National Bank. On June 27, Newman converted the second certificate of deposit for a cashier’s check worth, after an early withdrawal fee, $299,985.10. She then deposited this check into a savings account that she had opened at First National Bank in Mrs. Pharis’s name. Newman then withdrew $60,000 from this account. On November 9, Newman purchased a cashier’s check in the amount of $25,000 from First National Bank made payable to Mrs. Pharis and Mary Kay Newman. On the same day, she converted that check into a cashier’s check made payable to her alone at another branch of First National Bank. Newman deposited that check into her personal bank account at the Arkansas Federal Credit Union.

In late December 2011, Mrs. Pharis became concerned that she was not receiving her account statements from First National Bank. After an examination of her accounts, First National Bank discovered the transactions made by Newman, and she was terminated from employment on December 29, 2011.

Newman formally waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a one-count information on March 19, 2013.

This case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Timmy Akins. Assistant United States Attorney Kyra Jenner prosecuted the case for the United States.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Embezzlement Scheme at Alabama Credit Union Nets Probation

Two of three former employees have been sentenced for participating in a scheme that embezzled more than $61,000 from the $65 million Valley Credit Union in Tuscumbia, Ala.

Tonya M. Payne was sentenced to two years’ probation on one count of bank larceny at U.S District Court in Florence, Ala., on Sept. 6. She was employed at the credit union as an accounting clerk, according to court records. On Aug. 30, Stacey Marie Mathes, also was placed on two years of probation on one count of bank larceny. She worked at the cooperative as a loan officer.

Beth Ann Ledbetter, a  former branch manager, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 22 on one count of bank larceny.

The three employees pleaded guilty earlier for their involvement in the embezzlement scheme. They also paid full restitution of $61,666 to Valley CU in September 2012, court documents show.

Between Aug. 1, 2001 and Aug. 12, 2012, Payne, Mathes and Ledbetter wrote checks from their checking accounts to make payments on their credit union loan accounts, but the checks were never posted or cleared, according to court documents.

On other occasions, no checks were written, presented or cleared, yet the employees still had payments credited to their Valley CU loan accounts, the documents showed.

The credits to Payne’s, Mathes’ and Ledbetter’s loan accounts were covered by other Valley CU members’ account deposits. Court papers state the other members’ deposits were held before being presented to Valley CU’s money market account at First Metro Bank. However, other members’ deposits were posted to their accounts without delay.

According to court documents, Valley CU deposits to its money market account at First Metro Bank were not made on a daily basis and the sporadic nature of the deposits facilitated the wrongful posting of the checks. There was no loss to other members’ accounts, but the loss affected Valley CU’s money market account at First Metro Bank, court records show.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Former Bank Employee Charged with Embezzlement in Pennsylvania

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced the filing of a criminal information in U.S. District Court in Scranton Wednesday charging Patricia A. Tokash, age 42, of Kingston, Pennsylvania, with bank embezzlement.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Tokash was an employee of the M & T Bank branch located at 15 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. While employed at the bank, Tokash worked in the Government Loan Department and was responsible for administering and processing applications for M & T Bank loans to counties, townships, and municipalities. The criminal information alleges that between April 2011 and April 2012, Tokash embezzled approximately $62,995.66 in bank funds from fees paid in connection with loan applications, and/or from accounts at the M & T Bank, and converted the funds to her own use.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney John Gurganus.

Criminal informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 30 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances, and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public, and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational, and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant

Fired Houston Banker Sentenced for Embezzlement

 A former banker in Houston has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing $124,000 mainly from elderly customers or out-of-state patrons.

Prosecutors in Houston on Monday announced the penalty for 24-year-old Hannah Gonzales. She also must make $55,000 in restitution.

The former assistant manager of an International Bank of Commerce branch was arrested in January. Gonzales in June pleaded guilty to embezzlement.

Investigators say the Houston woman since 2010 stole money from accounts of people not likely to be stopping by the bank or customers who did not live in Texas. Some cash was stolen from teller boxes. Other funds were taken from customer accounts.

Gonzales was fired in July 2011 when an audit revealed the missing funds.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Former bank employee placed behind bars in Rhode Island

A former bank employee was sentenced to a year in prison after allegedly embezzling more than $95,000.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, former Bank of America employee Elvy Gomez, 40, pleaded guilty to one count each of theft of government property, forging an endorsement on treasury checks, and money laundering.

At the time of his guilty plea, Gomez admitted that he accessed a dormant checking account while at work and deposited stolen treasury checks, then withdrew the funds. He admitted to getting a fake ATM card and depositing 14 stolen treasury checks into the account.

Gomez was ordered to serve three years supervised release after prison, forfeit over $34,000 and pay $95,559 in restitution.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jonathan Weir, 45, a former bank employee, was sentenced today to 41 months in prison on a federal mail fraud charge stemming from his embezzlement of more than $2 million from client accounts, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Weir, of Laurel, Maryland, pled guilty in May 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Rudolph Contreras. The judge also ordered Weir to pay $2,166,500 in restitution and forfeit $1,469,510 in a money judgment. Upon completion of his prison term, Weir will be placed on three years of supervised release, and, during that time, he must perform 200 hours of community service.

According to the statement of offense signed by the defendant at the plea hearing and agreements made at the sentencing hearing, from 1992 to 2012, Weir was employed at a bank as a private banking associate, assisting with the management of high net-worth clients and their bank accounts. At least from 2000 to 2012, Weir worked with various clients, among them a married couple with accounts at the bank where Weir worked.

From May 2005 to August 2012, Weir withdrew a total of $2,166,500 from bank accounts belonging to the married couple without their permission or authority. Primarily, Weir would debit the clients’ accounts and issue a cashier’s check to one of three individuals, who would ordinarily deposit the money and then return a portion of the money to Weir. On occasion, Weir took cash or money orders, in addition to the cashier’s checks.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director in Charge Parlave commended the work of the special agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office who investigated the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including: Paralegal Specialist Donna Galindo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arvind K. Lal of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.

Janelle Earley indicted for embezzlement in Missouri

A suburban St. Louis bank employee has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000.

The indictment of 33-year-old Janelle Marie Earley of O'Fallon, Mo., was announced Wednesday.

Authorities say Earley embezzled the money from St. Johns Bank between 2011 and this year.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WesTex FCU Employee Sentenced for $500,000 Embezzlement

A former assistant accountant for the $60 million WesTex Federal Credit Union in Lubbock, Texas, will spend 37 months behind bars and pay restitution of $690,000 for embezzling an estimated $500,000 from a branch of the credit union.

Armelinda “Irma” Castillo, who worked at WesTex’s southwest branch at 7802 Indiana Ave. in Lubbock, was sentenced Friday for stealing the money from April 2009 to April 2012.

According to documents filed April 18, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Castillo embezzled funds in amounts of $100 - $1,000 and then deposited the money into the credit union account of either herself or her boyfriend. The money was used, she said, to pay for expenses for herself and for others.

Castillo pleaded guilty to misapplication of funds in December 2012. U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings also ordered that Castillo, 27, be supervised for five years after the completion of her sentence.

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the credit union contacted law enforcement when it discovered the embezzlement.

“At no time have our credit union member accounts or funds been in jeopardy,” the credit union had said in a prepared statement, adding that members were notified immediately after the problem was discovered.

Vicki Lynn Love, president of the west Texas credit union, could not be reached for further comment on Tuesda