News and Press Releases

Defendant Allegedly Used Position at Bank to Write Checks to Himself on Customer Accounts

June 13, 2008

RUBEN SALAZAR, 35, of Puyallup, was arrested this morning following his indictment for 19 counts of Bank Fraud. SALAZAR is the former manager of a Key Bank branch on South Tacoma Way, who allegedly used his position to embezzle more than $85,000 from customer accounts. Prosecutors allege SALAZAR preyed on customers who were elderly Social Security recipients or, in one case, deceased, and that most of the embezzled funds were Social Security benefits that the customers had received. SALAZAR will make his initial appearance on the indictment in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.

According to the indictment returned yesterday, from September 2007, to January 2008, SALAZAR used his position at Key Bank to order checks on certain customer accounts. The checks used one customer’s account number, but SALAZAR selected a different name, someone residing out of state, for the name on the checks. SALAZAR then made out $4,950 in checks on the account for deposit into his own bank account. In a second instance, SALAZAR identified a Key Bank customer with a $400,000 bank balance who intended to donate the money to the University of Washington at the time of her death. SALAZAR ordered checks on this account and put the name of one of the account holder’s neighbors on the checks. SALAZAR researched the neighbor’s name through county property records. Again SALAZAR allegedly wrote more than $46,000 in checks to himself on the account, depositing the money into various bank accounts controlled by him. In a third instance, when SALAZAR learned that a bank customer had died, he allegedly ordered checks on the account and wrote five checks totaling more than $26,000 to himself for deposit into his own bank accounts.

Bank Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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