FORMER BANK MANAGER SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS FOR BANK FRAUD
Puyallup woman transferred more than $100,000 from bank and customer accounts for her own use
SHERI L. LUCO, 43, of Puyallup, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 15 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and $100,619 in restitution for Bank Fraud. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton told her he was concerned about how her actions had damaged the community and undermined trust in our institutions.
LUCO was a Banking Services Associate/Overseas Manager for Rainier Pacific Bank in Fife and Tacoma, Washington. In that role LUCO was to manage bank accounts for customers while they were temporarily overseas. Many of these customers were teachers working overseas at American International Schools. Customers using the Overseas Account service would grant Power of Attorney to LUCO, as Overseas Manager, to pay their bills and handle other financial transactions. Instead, between January 2003, and August 2004, LUCO stole more than $100,000 of bank and customer money.
LUCO was indicted in July 2005, and pleaded guilty December 22, 2005.
LUCO concealed dozens of thefts in a variety of ways. Part of her job was to manage the bank’s sale of American Express Travelers Cheques. On a number of occasions LUCO transferred funds from the American Express account into her own or a relative’s account. Sometimes she would first transfer the money to a customer’s overseas account before again transferring the amount to her own or a relative’s account. LUCO took roughly $80,000 from the American Express account. LUCO would often use co-workers’ computers to make the transfers to make it appear that others were involved in the fraudulent transactions.
LUCO also took some $14,000 from the accounts of individual customers and about $7,000 from internal bank accounts that were set up for operating fees and expenses.
In order to conceal her theft, LUCO made numerous false entries on the bank’s computer system. As prosecutors wrote to the judge, “Fraud, deception, and betrayal were at the heart of Luco’s scheme. The way she carried out this crime ensured that, if suspicious activity was ever detected, the investigative trail would point not just to Luco, but also to bank customers, her own family members, and her fellow employees.”
When Ranier Pacific discovered the fraud, they immediately paid back the customers who had lost money to LUCO.
The case was investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Dion and Matthew H. Thomas.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206)553-4110.