Former Employee Sentenced for $130,000 Bank Theft Scheme
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former employee of Community National Bank in Aurora, Mo., was sentenced in federal court today for a $130,000 bank embezzlement scheme.
Jo Ann Nickell, 46, of Aurora, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 18 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Nickell to pay $130,268 in restitution to Community National Bank and its insurance company. Nickell must self-surrender on Oct. 3, 2016, to begin serving her sentence.
Nickell, who pleaded guilty on Oct. 27, 2015, was employed by Community National Bank as a customer service representative and back-up teller from Aug. 17, 2009, to July 19, 2013. Her thefts began nine months after being hired and continued for about three years.
According to court documents, Nickell stole money from the accounts of seven victims, ranging in age from 65 to 91, some of whom suffered from illnesses such as cancer and early dementia, and one who was in a nursing home. Nickell stole thousands of dollars from each of her victims, with individual thefts up to $14,400. Nickell concealed her thefts by having some bank statements come to the bank rather than being mailed to the customers.
The bank reimbursed all of the funds that were stolen from the victims of Nickell’s embezzlement scheme.
One of the victims told bank employees that his wife recently died at a nursing home, and he was going into the nursing home that week. Nickell stole funds from his account the very next day, according to court documents. Another customer, who was dying of cancer, purchased two Certificate of Deposits for $100,000 to leave for his children. Nickell stole one of those CD’s in the amount of $46,445.
A 72-year-old bank customer, who has a feeding tube due to surgery complications, said that Nickell was paying him “special savings interest” and that she kept his monthly statements so that no one else would know how much money he had. Nickell, who did not have the administrative power to change interest rates, was not in fact paying him a special interest rate. He referred to a small notebook where Nickell had written down his balance and interest, but those amounts were incorrect. Nickell had actually stolen $25,100 from his account.
Nickell’s embezzlement was discovered when she stole $8,000 from the savings account of an 87-year-old customer, who noticed the withdrawal on her statement and notified the bank. Nickell had attempted to change the customer’s account so that monthly bank statements came to the bank rather than being mailed to her residence, but didn’t do it correctly, so the customer did receive the statement in the mail.
As a result of Nickell’s criminal actions, Community National Bank and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation experienced a total loss of $130,268.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Abram McGull II and Nhan Nguyen. It was investigated by the Aurora, Mo., Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.