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AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC at 410-209-4885
APRIL 11, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OWINGS MILLS WOMAN SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR STEALING MORE THAN $400,000 IN A BANK FRAUD SCHEME
BALTIMORE, Maryland - Saratou Stewart, age 28, of Owings Mills, was sentenced today to18 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for bank fraud, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz also ordered Stewart to pay restitution of $457,181 as agreed upon in her plea agreement.
According to the statement of facts presented at her guilty plea on January 6, 2006, from September 2003 to October 2005 Saratou Stewart and her husband, Ronald Stewart, age 31, of Owings Mills, executed a scheme to defraud CitiFinancial, Inc. of over $400,000. Ronald Stewart was employed by CitiFinancial, Inc. as an auditor and was responsible for approving employee expense accounts and vouchers in Canada. For the last three years, he worked at the CitiFinancial, Inc. branch office in Baltimore, Maryland.
In September 2003, Saratou Stewart and a friend traveled to Canada on separate occasions to open two bank accounts at the Bank of Nova Scotia. Saratou Stewart opened an account in her maiden name of Saratou Deveneaux. Once the accounts were opened, Ronald Stewart falsified CitiFinancial records and created two false employees in the CitiFinancial accounting system using the maiden name of his wife and her friend. Ronald Stewart then created fraudulent expense reports for the false employees in order for CitiFinancial to “reimburse” them for expenses.
Over two years from September 2003 to September 2005, Ronald Stewart caused CitiFinancial to wire $369,916.59 in Canadian funds to the Saratou Deveneaux account. Stewart also created checks totaling $224,099.15 in Canadian funds, which he personally mailed for deposit in the friend’s account. The Stewarts used ATM cards from the two Bank of Nova Scotia accounts to withdraw stolen funds. They made wire transfers to their personal checking accounts in Baltimore, Maryland, withdrawing approximately $457,181 in U.S. funds from the accounts. Among other things, the money was used for the purchase of a 2005 Lincoln Navigator, valued at approximately $60,000; the purchase of a new home in Owings Mills, Maryland and furniture for that home; the renewal of their wedding vows; the purchase of property in Trinidad; and monetary gifts to their families.
In October, 2005, U.S. Postal Inspectors recovered a majority of the fraudulent expense reports and bank wire transfer authorizations during a search warrant conducted at the Stewart’s residence. Both defendants admitted to their involvement in the bank fraud scheme at that time.
Ronald Stewart pleaded guilty to bank fraud and was sentenced to 27 months in prison on March 15, 2006.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for its investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Kwame J. Manley, who prosecuted the case.
This page last modifiedApril 13, 2006