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Dec. 29, 2009


(LAREDO, Texas) – The former operations supervisor of a local bank has been arrested following the return of a 29-count indictment charging her with defrauding the bank of more than $190,000 during the last two years of her employment, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Norma Vargas, 41, the former operations supervisor of International Bank of Commerce (IBC) was arrested last night by Secret Service agents with a warrant that issued following the return of a sealed indictment on Dec. 22, 2009. The 29-count indictment was unsealed today following Vargas’ appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge in Laredo. Vargas, a permanent resident alien residing in Laredo, has been ordered temporarily held without bond pending a bond/detention hearing set for Dec. 31, 2009.

According to the indictment, the 29 counts of bank fraud arose from a scheme Vargas allegedly executed during her employment as the IBC operations supervisor. IBC is a federally insured depository bank headquartered in Laredo with branches in Texas and Oklahoma. As the operations supervisor, Vargas was responsible for overseeing the utility accounts payable of all IBC branches, including an electricity utility bills account and a telephone and data utility accounts payable. The indictment alleges Vargas took more than $190,000 from the two utility accounts by diverting funds from the bank’s accounts into her personal savings account beginning in October 2007 until the scheme was discovered in early September 2009. 

The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture seeking to forfeit Vargas’ interest in $182,115.87, constituting the unrecovered sum of the alleged proceeds derived by Vargas from the fraud scheme.
A conviction for bank fraud carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in federal prison without parole and a fine of not more than $1 million.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by agents of the United States Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.




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