Former Sanger Bank Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Approximately $250,000 from Bank
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 19, 2013|
FRESNO, CA—Mary Helen Perez, 50, of Sanger, pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing and embezzling approximately $250,000 from a federally insured bank, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to her plea agreement, Perez was employed as the Assistant Customer Service Manager at Westamerica Bank in Sanger and had been an employee of that bank for approximately 29 years. From May 2007 until October 2011, Perez made approximately 78 cash withdrawals from seven customers’ bank accounts without the knowledge or authorization of the account holders. She deliberately targeted customers that she believed trusted her. Perez filled out withdrawal slips on the victims’ bank accounts and either forged their signatures or wrote an “X” on the signature line of the withdrawal slips. Perez spent some of the embezzled funds for personal expenses, but she spent the overwhelming majority of the funds at casinos.
According to court documents, Perez took several steps to hide her embezzlement from the bank and her victims. She told some of the bank customers who questioned her about the unauthorized withdrawals that there would be fees charged for investigating the account discrepancies. Perez also sought to conceal her embezzlement by putting some of the victims’ bank statements on “hold” status so the she would receive them at the bank, where she destroyed them. As part of her plea agreement, Perez agreed to pay back Westamerica Bank the $249,793 it lost as a result of her embezzlement.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.
Perez is scheduled to be sentenced on June 10, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. The maximum statutory penalty she faces is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.