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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Feb. 16, 2012                   

FORMER FIRST CITIZENS BANK MANAGER PLEADS GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A former First Citizens Bank (First Citizens) manager pleaded guilty today in federal court before United States District Judge Irene C. Berger to bank fraud.  John R. Garris, 46, of Beckley, West Virginia, was a financial services manager at the banking company’s Lewisburg, West Virginia branch from January 2007 to February 2011.

Garris admitted that from at least January 2008 until February 2011, he began taking monies from First Citizens by creating fictitious loans in the names of existing customers of the bank.  Garris also admitted to obtaining advances on existing loans held by several of the bank’s customers.  In addition, Garris admitted that in order to convert the loan proceeds to his own use, he disbursed the proceeds by issuing cashier's checks, which he later cashed.  The defendant also admitted that he deposited the illegally issued cashier's checks into his personal bank account at another financial institution.

Garris stipulated in his plea agreement that during the fraudulent scheme, approximately $90,000 to $99,175 was stolen from the bank. 

Garris faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1million fine when he is sentenced on June 4, 2012. 

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Susan Robinson is in charge of the prosecution. 

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