Ex-Bank Branch Manager Sentenced to Nearly 3½ Years in Federal Prison for Stealing Over $1 Million from Customer with Dementia
LOS ANGELES – A former Comerica bank branch manager was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison for stealing more than $1 million from an elderly customer with dementia, and then using it for her own personal benefit, including to finance her gambling.
Marie Fulle, 38, of Newport Beach, was sentenced via videoconference by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who also ordered her to pay $1,091,230 in restitution. Fulle pleaded guilty in September 2019 to two counts of bank fraud.
While she was a branch manager of a Comerica bank in Tustin, Fulle cultivated an exclusive banking relationship with an elderly customer with dementia from February 2013 to April 2014. During this period, Fulle opened various bank accounts with the victim and used those accounts to create a confusing web in which she could hide unauthorized transfers, according to the plea agreement, in which Fulle also admits she fraudulently obtained funds by cashing cashier’s checks drawn on the victim’s accounts.
Between February 2013 and May 2013, Fulle embezzled approximately $43,400 over the course of six transactions. In its sentencing memorandum, the government argued that Fulle lost an anticipated promotion at work in May 2013 and thereafter began embezzling larger amounts of the victim’s money, unilaterally changing the address for one of the victim’s accounts, which prevented the bank statements from being delivered to the victim and his bookkeeper. Fulle also conducted much of the victim’s banking activities in private, one-on-one meetings, away from the view of other bank personnel or security cameras.
In addition to gambling trips to Las Vegas, during the course of the scheme Fulle treated herself to Tiffany jewelry, at least one Louis Vuitton bag, fancy dinners and spa days for herself and her then-boyfriend, prosecutors said in court documents.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Phillips said that the motivation for the crime was “overwhelmingly…the gambling addiction” cited by the defense. However, the court added, “the harm to the vulnerable victim was the same, whatever the motivation.”
Comerica fired Fulle in April 2014 for embezzling money from her cash drawer. When Comerica subsequently discovered the fraud Fulle committed against the victim, it reimbursed the victim nearly $1.3 million for disputed transactions that Fulle processed, lost interest and attorneys’ fees. The total loss that Fulle caused to the victim was $1,057,230. The restitution amount includes the victim’s attorneys’ fees.
This matter was investigated by the FBI.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly D. Jaimez of the Major Frauds Section.