FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – A former bank employee was arrested this morning and charged with stealing $1.8 million from her employer and concealing the thefts while acting as the victim’s executive assistant, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Karen R. Febles, 47, of Palisades Park, N.J., was arrested at her home by agents of the IRS and FBI and charged by Complaint with one count each of bank fraud and money laundering. She was scheduled to make her initial appearance later in the day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.
According to the Criminal Complaint:
From at least 2000 through September 2011, Febles worked as an executive assistant for a bank in New York City. Her duties included assisting the victim, a retired employee of the bank, with his personal and professional finances. As part of her employment, Febles routinely prepared and negotiated checks on behalf of the victim. Febles was terminated by the bank in September 2011.
A review of the victim’s bank records show that between 2007 and September 2011 at least $1.8 million of the victim’s funds was debited from his bank accounts without the victim’s authorization. A review of checks written by Febles revealed the checks had been altered – after they had been signed by the victim – to add additional sums of money. Once issued, Febles negotiated many of the checks, in cash, for the altered amount. During that time, Febles had more than $1 million in unexplained deposits and expenditures in bank accounts she controlled. More than $400,000 in cash was deposited into bank accounts held by Febles during this time. Checks drawn directly off of the victim’s accounts, totaling at least $470,000, were deposited directly into bank accounts held by Febles during this time.
Febles also purchased a Range Rover with $52,720 in cash, a Mercedes-Benz with $34,650 in cash (both of which were seized at the time of her arrest), and spent approximately $45,000 on vacation cruises, more than $100,000 on real estate-related expenses, more than $20,000 on other automobile payments and more than $20,000 on personal expenses, including entertainment, meals, travel, and clothing. During this time, Febles never made more than $93,000 in legitimate income.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn Zuniga in Newark, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron Mendelson of the Economic Crimes Unit and Evan Weitz of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was brought in coordination with 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.
Anyone who has information which may be relevant to this case is encouraged to contact the Newark Division of the FBI at 973-792-3000.
Defense counsel: Chester Keller Esq., First Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark