Former Sanger Bank Employee Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $250,000 from Bank
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 10, 2013|
FRESNO, CA—Mary Helen Perez, 50, of Sanger, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to two years and three months in prison for stealing and embezzling from a federally insured bank, announced United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. Judge O’Neill also ordered Perez to pay $249,793 in restitution to the bank.
According to court documents, Perez was the assistant customer service manager at Westamerica Bank in Sanger, where she had been employed for 29 years. Over a four-year period, Perez made approximately 78 cash withdrawals from seven customers’ bank accounts without their knowledge or authorization. Perez targeted customers she believed trusted her and covertly withdrew funds from their bank accounts by filling out withdrawal slips and forging their signatures or writing an “X” on the signature line. Perez spent the overwhelming majority of the embezzled funds at casinos and for other personal expenses.
Perez 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. 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.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Baker prosecuted the case.