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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Thursday, May 11, 2017

San Francisco Executive Assistant Charged With Bank Fraud And Wire Fraud

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted Regina Berny on charges of bank fraud and wire fraud announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

According to the indictment unsealed earlier today, from January 2011 until August 2015, Berny, 42, of San Francisco, took over $530,000 from her two separate employers and fraudulently deposited the money into her own personal bank accounts.  She worked as an executive assistant for these employers who were corporations with headquarters in San Francisco – one a global commercial property developer of distribution facilities and the other a global chain of perfume and cosmetics stores.  During her employment, Berny allegedly stole mail belonging to her employers that contained checks made payable to the employers.  Once in possession of the checks, Berny allegedly wrote on the back of the checks “for deposit only,” and deposited them into her personal bank account.  In addition, the indictment alleges Berny deposited the checks at automated teller machines so that she was not questioned or confronted about her authority to deposit the checks into her personal account.  The indictment further alleges some of the checks were sent to Berny’s employers by third party vendors for overpayments made by the employers to the vendors while other checks were tax refund payments sent to the employers by counties, cities, or states. 

Berny is charged with six counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and six counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.  Berny was arrested this morning and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joeseph C. Spero.  She was released on bond and is scheduled to make her next appearance in federal court in San Francisco on May 23, 2017, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria for arraignment.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of thirty years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000 for each count of bank fraud.  In addition, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count of wire fraud.  Additional terms of supervised release and restitution also may be ordered, however, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hallie Hoffman is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Heidi Dittmer.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Financial Fraud
Updated June 22, 2017