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Press Release

Former Senior Executive at Chinatown-Based Bank Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charge for Embezzling More Than $700,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – The former chief financial officer at a downtown Los Angeles bank has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $700,000 of his employer’s funds and admitted stealing bank employees’ identities to open life insurance policies in their names to benefit his wife, the Justice Department announced today.

Sammy Sims, 61, of West Covina, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to one count of bank fraud. 

According to his plea agreement, the Chinatown-based Eastern International Bank hired Sims in September 2017 as the lender’s CFO. As a condition of his employment, Sims agreed that he would not use the bank’s confidential information for his personal benefit or for others. The bank’s policy also required Sims to promptly disclose any conflicts or appearances of conflict with the bank’s interests. Sims’s scheme to defraud his employer lasted from February 2018 until at least April 2021.

From August 2018 to October 2020, Sims wired $86,000 in bank funds to the United States Treasury and California Franchise Tax Board to make payments towards the personal federal and state income taxes for himself and his wife. Sims concealed these transactions by creating false entries in the bank’s general ledger that falsely represented that the payments were for the bank’s tax accounts.

In April 2019, Sims used approximately $14,161 in bank funds to a debt collection agency to help pay off a debt that he had incurred. Sims concealed this transaction by creating a false entry in the bank’s general ledger that falsely stated the payment was for data processing software.

From April 2019 to December 2020, Sims took approximately $113,264 in money belonging to the bank to pay the balances on his personal credit card. Sims hid these expenses in the bank’s general ledger by falsely labeling them as bank expenses. During this time, he also siphoned approximately $81,815 from the bank by using a bank credit card, meant for work purposes, for his personal expenses, including steak dinners and a trip to Las Vegas.

Sims, from February 2020 to April 2021, also lied to several bank employees by telling them they had to switch their bank-funded life insurance policies because of their age. What neither the employees nor the bank knew was these policies were obtained through Sims’s wife, a licensed life insurance broker who received a commission for each life policy she sold. For some employees, Sims obtained their personal identifying information without their consent and then used this information to purchase life insurance policies from his wife. Sims used a checking account belonging to the bank to wire approximately $311,608 of the bank’s money to several life insurance companies to partially pay for the premiums for these policies.

When Sims was later confronted about the life insurance policies opened using bank employees’ personal identifying information, he lied by saying the employees’ identities could have been stolen through a cybersecurity hack or by unauthorized disclosures by the bank’s personnel department. Sims resigned from the bank shortly after being confronted about the life insurance policies.

In total, Sims unlawfully took at least $737,849 of bank funds for his personal use and benefit.

United States District Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong scheduled a May 10 sentencing hearing, at which time Sims will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

The FBI and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorney Jason C. Pang of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated February 23, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-045