Two former bank tellers entered guilty pleas to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution in federal court.
On Tuesday, Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia said both Vicky Martin, 60, of Buckhead (Morgan County), and Brandy Mize, 42, of Eatonton, were employed as tellers by The Peoples Bank in Eatonton and used their positions to steal $1,663,205.25.
Maximum penalties for the fraud charge are 30 years imprisonment, $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release. The Honorable Tillman E. “Tripp” Self presided over Tuesday’s hearing, and sentencing is scheduled for March 5, 2019.
According to the plea agreement, Ms. Mize was the Head Teller and Ms. Martin was employed as the Assistant Head Teller at The People’s Bank. In these positions, the defendants were responsible for correcting mistakes indicated by the Branch Capture Correction Account (BCCA), a quality control feature used by the bank to reveal one-sided transactions and prevent mistakes or fraud.
On a daily basis, the defendants were tasked with insuring that the cash counts in the teller drawers and the bank vault balanced, and were not the objects of theft, and overseeing the operation of both the BCCA and Teller Plus system that checks the accuracy of these cash balances and records. The defendants also placed orders for cash from the Federal Reserve Bank.
The defendants used their positions of trust to embezzle and misapply bank money by transferring bank funds into their personal bank accounts or into the accounts of family members and associates.
The defendants took cash from their teller drawers and, in Ms. Mize’s case, directly from the vault. The defendants also issued cashier’s checks for their benefit, all without valid checks or cash being deposited to the bank to support these transactions.
To cover the thefts, the defendants corrected errors indicated in the BCCA, and hid losses by inflating the vault cash balance, as they were the employees responsible for counting the cash in the vault and ordering the cash to replenish the fault from the Federal Reserve Bank. The bank began their internal investigation in March 2016, following reports from colleagues regarding suspicious activity on the bank’s general ledger.
The defendants were suspended on March 14, 2016. In a telephone conversation with the President of The Peoples Bank, Ms. Mize estimated she had been taking money from the bank for three to four years. A substantial increase in activity in the BCAA was noted in April 2014.
“From the front of the bank, the defendants created a complex scheme to defraud a community business out of well over a million dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Peeler. “Thanks to the good investigative work by the FBI, along with our dedicated prosecution team, we were able to fully uncover this conspiracy. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to vigorously fight fraud and protect law-abiding citizens and businesses.”
The case was investigated by the Macon office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Paul McCommon is prosecuting the case for the Government.