Frederick Bank Trust Officer Pleads Guilty To Embezzling over $313,000

October 13, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - Tommy L. Phillips, age 55, of Frederick, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to bank fraud.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Phillips worked in Frederick as a trust officer for PNC Bank. According to Phillips’ plea agreement, when a check came to the bank for one of the trust accounts that Phillips managed, he was required to deposit the check into a clearing account. Once the trust account funds were transferred into the clearing account, Phillips was required to deposit the specified funds into the appropriate customer’s trust account.

From 2003 to December 2009, Phillips embezzled funds from the trust accounts that he managed using a variety of methods. Most commonly, Phillips rerouted the funds from the banks’ clearing accounts into his personal bank accounts using cashiers checks, or using checks written from the clearing account to pay off his credit card bills. In order to cover up his scheme, Phillips would then misappropriate incoming trust account deposits in order to replace funds in trust accounts that he had previously stolen from. Phillips chose which accounts to embezzle from based on the age of the customers and their lack of attention to the accounts. Phillips used the stolen funds to pay for his and his wife’s personal debts, his household bills and to purchase jewelry for his wife.

During the course of the six year scheme, Phillips embezzled approximately $313,303.05 in trust account funds from the banks’ clearing accounts for his personal use.

Phillips faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander scheduled his sentencing for January 6, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the FBI for its work in the investigation and praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean B. O’Connell, who is prosecuting the case.

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