Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2011

Van Zandt County Bank Teller Guilty of Embezzling Funds

  TYLER, Texas – A 39-year-old Grand Saline, Texas woman has pleaded guilty to embezzling bank funds in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Lori Smith Pickens pleaded guilty to embezzlement by a bank employee on Nov. 14, 2011, before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.

                According to information presented in court, from May 2008 to July 2010, Pickens was employed as a bank teller at the Grand Saline, Texas branch of Austin Bank.  During that time, Pickens made unauthorized cash-outs from the accounts of multiple bank customers resulting in defrauding the bank of more than $100,000.  Pickens was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 15, 2011.

           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.

            Pickens faces up to 30 years in federal prison at sentencing.  A sentencing date has not been set.

            This case is being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan.

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