Sally Ann Nutting Arraigned and Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on February 11, 2009, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, SALLY ANN NUTTING, a 30-year-old resident of Billings, was arraigned and pled guilty to embezzlement from a bank. Sentencing is set for May 13, 2009. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Between approximately May 1999 and March 14, 2008, NUTTING was employed as a Customer Services Specialist by Western Security Bank in Billings. NUTTING'S duties included assisting customers with deposits and check cashing.
From approximately October 5, 2007, and continuing until March 12, 2008, NUTTING embezzled moneys, funds, or credits from the bank by taking cash from her teller drawer, pocketing the cash, and removing the cash from the bank. NUTTING covered up the thefts, which appeared as shortfalls to her teller drawer balance, by improperly preparing daily "cash-out tickets," which document cash leaving the bank on a daily basis. A "cash-out ticket" could be deleted when a teller needed to correct a mistake. For each amount of cash NUTTING took on any given day, her cash-out ticket included the amount she stole from her teller drawer that day.
To avoid detection, NUTTING prepared a false daily cash-out ticket at 4:01 p.m., which is the beginning of the bank's accounting day. NUTTING then deleted each daily cash-out ticket at 3:59 p.m. the next day, which is the end of the bank's account day. The improperly prepared cash-out tickets ranged from $4,000 on October 5, 2007, to approximately $35,500 on March 12, 2008.
The shortfalls accumulated, making it necessary for NUTTING to account for the total shortfall each time she stole additional cash. By March 12, 2008, the shortfall totaled approximately $36,000.
On March 11, 2008, NUTTING covered the final cumulative shortfall total of $36,000 by removing $36,000 from an ATM canister in the bank vault, putting the cash into her teller drawer, and indicating in transaction records she had sold this cash back to the vault. This action balanced her till, thereby disguising the total shortfall of $36,000.
Also on March 11, 2008, a teller supervisor noticed during a surprise cash count that NUTTING had a large cash-out transaction for approximately $35,000. After questioning NUTTING about this large cash-out ticket, NUTTING explained that a bank customer called in a "change-order" for $35,500 cash and picked up the cash through the drive-up teller window after 4:00 p.m. NUTTING said she had set the cash aside for the transaction.
On March 12, 2008, a customer service manager, a branch manger, and the teller supervisor met with NUTTING at the bank. After being asked why a Cash Transaction Report had not been completed for the last cash-out transaction on March 11, 2008, NUTTING changed her story. NUTTING then said that on March 11, 2008, the same customer had brought approximately $35,500 cash to the bank and exchanged it for the $35,500 cash in different denominations.
On March 17, 2008, the bank's internal auditors visited the bank and counted the cash in the vault, finding it short by $36,000. Another bank teller told the internal auditors to look in the ATM canister in the vault. She said NUTTING and a vault teller at the bank, filled the ATM canister with $36,000 on March 12, 2008. After opening the ATM canister, the auditors observed the canister was empty. The auditors confirmed that NUTTING and the vault teller placed the $36,000 in cash inside the ATM canister during the morning of March 12, 2008, and placed the canister in the vault. Next, the auditors reviewed the surveillance tape of the ATM canister. The tape showed NUTTING later taking this ATM canister out of the vault, placing it on her back teller counter, and removing the cash in two handfuls. After removing the cash, NUTTING placed the cash in an empty third drawer near the vault safe. The surveillance tape showed NUTTING later moved the cash in two handfuls into her teller drawer. In an effort to cover up the theft, NUTTING placed the ATM canister seal, which was loose, onto the ATM canister. NUTTING also took the cash she obtained from the ATM canister and strapped it into cash bundles. She did this to conform the loose cash with the other cash she would later sell to the vault. NUTTING closed the vault door and returned the ATM vault key to its proper position. The auditors noted that NUTTING appeared to have waited purposely to remove the cash from the ATM canister and hide it in her teller drawer until the teller area was mostly clear, except for one remaining teller who was busy assisting bank customers.
In order to perpetuate the fraud, NUTTING needed to be in the bank each business day since October 5, 2007, so as to prepare each improper daily cash-out ticket and make the related deletion. Even though NUTTING'S daughter was ill at one time, NUTTING refused to take time off to take care of her daughter.
When questioned by law enforcement, NUTTING admitted the theft of $36,000 from the bank. She said she took money when she needed it and used the money to pay bills. She also admitted she had lied to the bank about what she did with the final shortfall of $36,000 in order to cover up the thefts. NUTTING further admitted covering the final shortfall of $36,000 by taking cash from the ATM canister, placing it in her till, and then "selling" it to the vault.
NUTTING faces possible penalties of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret R. Gallagher prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.