Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Bank manager sentenced for $400k theft

A woman who embezzled  $400,000 from the bank she managed in North Idaho for 12 years is to spend 2 1/2 years in prison.

Mary Ann Head, 59, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after pleading guilty in December to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution - Bank of America in Hayden Lake.

In addition to 30 months in prison, Head will be on probation for five years after prison and is to pay $400,000 restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

Head began misappropriating ATM funds in 1997 to cover overdraft fees for a longtime customer, according to court documents.

The man never repaid her the $100,000, starting a series of financial discrepancies that soon became a routine way for Head to pay her credit card debt.

Head lived with heavy stress for years as she deceived the bank, but that "pales in comparison to the enormous shame and sadness that weighs upon her."

Head was caught in December 2009 when the bank installed a new ATM.

Her life has since unraveled.

"She has lost all of her friends as news of her case spread through the community," according to her sentencing memorandum. She has sold her home in an effort to have money to pay toward restitution and currently lives in a motel…Her husband has moved to New Mexico to look for work and left her alone in Idaho to wait for sentencing."

Head had no criminal history when she began stealing money from the bank. She has two children ages 37 and 23 and married her husband, Ricky Head, in 1972. She started at the bank as a part-time teller in 1993 and has never worked anywhere else, according to court documents.

Bank of America to close branch near Spokane Courthouse


View Larger Map

The Bank of America branch at 804 N. Monroe St. near downtown Spokane will close in May, the company announced.

The plan is to move that branch’s workers to other positions in the area, bank spokeswoman Britney Sheehan said.

The closure results from “ongoing evaluation” of how BofA's local branches serve the community’s banking needs, she added.

The bank will install a stand-alone ATM in the area of Broadway and Monroe, though Sheehan said the location hasn’t been identified yet.

BofA expects to continue reducing the number of branches over the next 10 years as customers adopt a variety of other options for managing accounts and obtaining bank services, Sheehan said.

Ex-bank manager admits $400k theft

A North Idaho woman who embezzled from the bank she worked at for more than a decade has been ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

Mary A. Head, 58, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution.

Head faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation when she's sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d'Alene. She is not in custody.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM “and used it for a variety of purposes,” according to a grand jury indictment filed in March.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling money.

Ex-Hayden BofA Banker Pleads Guilty

Mary Ann Head, 58, of Coeur d’Alene, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution, announced U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson. According to the plea agreement, Head was employed by Bank of America at its Hayden branch from 1993 to 2009.  In 1997, Head became the assistant branch manager.  In her capacity as assistant branch manager, Head was the sole employee responsible for control of the automatic teller machine.  Beginning sometime in 1997, Head began taking money out of the automatic teller machine.  Head admitted that she made false entries in the books, reports, and statements of Bank of America in order to disguise her criminal activity, and that she continued to do so until it was discovered by the bank in December 2009/Pamela Bearg, U.S. Attorney's Office. More below.

Thoughts?

Wells Fargo To Charge For Debits, Too

If you have a checking account with Wells Fargo, look out: The megabank is about to start charging some customers $3 a month to access their own money. According to a fee schedule the bank recently released, customers in Georgia, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and New Mexico will have to pay $3 every month to make purchases using their debit cards. The new fee took effect on Friday, and the company describes it as a test. If it creates widespread outrage, that could mean the bank will drop the fee entirely. But if customers accept the idea of paying $3 a month for the privilege of using their own money, the practice could become permanent nationwide/Credit.com. More here.

Question: Wells Fargo is starting small by instituting its debit card charges in five states, including Washington. Bank of America, of course, did this recently, too. Will a fee charged by the money changers to use your money cause you to switch banks?

Bank To Charge For Debit Card Use

Bank of America plans to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee for using their debit card for purchases. The fee will be rolled out starting early next year. A number of banks have either rolled out or are testing such fees. Bank of America's announcement carries added weight because it is the largest U.S. bank by deposits. Anne Pace, a Bank of America Corp. spokeswoman, said Thursday that customers will only be charged the fee if they use their debit cards for purchases in any given month. Customers won't be charged if they only use their cards at an ATM/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo: A customer uses a Bank of America ATM in Charlotte, N.C.)

Question: Would you change banks if your bank started charging fees for debit card use?

Washington AG McKenna sues firm for alleged illegal foreclosures

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna on Friday filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Bank of America subsidiary, ReconTrust, based in Simi Valley, Calif., for numerous alleged illegal foreclosures against Washington homeowners.

The company is a foreclosure agent for the bank.

A press release noted that “ReconTrust ignored our warnings, repeatedly broke the law and refused to provide information requested during our investigation,” McKenna said. “ReconTrust’s illegal practices make it difficult, if not impossible, for borrowers who might have a shot at saving their homes to stop those foreclosures.”

Notably, at least 74 Spokane County homes are included in the several thousand potential victims of the alleged bad practices of ReconTrust, according to a database maintained by ReconTrust, listing the homes it's foreclosed on and is currently selling.

To search the full list of recent (2011) foreclosures processed by ReconTrust in Washington, here's the link.

An AG's office spokeswoman said the suit does not allege every ReconTrust foreclosure followed the same pattern.

The release notes, however, that "ReconTrust has failed to comply with the Washington Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.24, in each and every foreclosure it has conducted since at least June 12, 2008.”

Agora winners announced, including Second Harvest Food Bank

Greater Spokane Inc. on Wednesday announced winners of the annual Agora Awards, which recognize excellence in area businesses.

Winners are:

  • Small business: Desautel Hege Communications
  • Medium business: Horizon Hospice
  • Large business: Spokane Industries Inc.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit winner: Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. 
  • Community Service winner: Northwest Farm Credit Services.
  • Small nonprofit: Spokane Lilac Festival Association
  • Large nonprofit: Second Harvest Food Bank.
  • The main sponsor of the awards is Bank of America.

Feds: Ex-bank manager embezzled $500k

A former North Idaho bank manager is accused of stealing $514,000 over a 12-year period.

Mary A. Head is charged with false entries, a federal felony that carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM "and used it for a variety of purposes," according to the indictment.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling more than $500,000, according to the indictment.

Along with the criminal charge, Head is being asked to forfeit the stolen money. She is not in custody.

A smiliar indictment was returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. 

Melissa K. Garcia is accused of stealing $5,000 from U.S. Bank in Othello in July 2006. She's charged with bank embezzlement, which carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

Santa Clyde got started today

There was a line in the parking lot outside Bank of America’s Hillyard branch even before it opened today. But people were not lined up to refinance their mortgages, they were lined up to get a toy for their children from Hillyard Santa, Clyde Decker.
Bank of America has lent him a vault downstairs and he expects to have enough toys for more than 3,000 kids.
“I don’t give away all the good stuff at the beginning, I try to space it out,” said Decker, who takes donations all year and also spends some of his Social Security check on toys for kids. “People see me shopping and they say, boy, you must have a lot of grand kids. And I say yes, about 600.”
Decker is at the bank every day during opening hours through Dec. 23 - and no, he’s not sure he’s got enough toys. Word on the street this morning was that more than 500 families that usually are served by Spokane Valley Partners’ toy donations, may turn to Santa Clyde. Spokane Valley Partners are not giving out toys this year. Hillyard Lions and Kiwanis are helping Decker out this year - both with donations and with  managing the long line of people.
“Some want this to just be for Hillyard, but I don’t,” said Decker, while showing off the vault. “I want it to be for everyone.” Recipients must bring ID and proof of address to receive gifts.

TierPoint in Liberty Lake adds capacity, plans for the future with a green data center


View Larger Map

Liberty Lake-based data center TierPoint has two announcements this week. First, it’s upgraded its network to 50 gigabits per second capacity.

Second, it’s announced an $8.2 million project to build a third center, TierPoint 3, just down the street from its first and second centers.

The network upgrade means customers who provide Internet and network services from TierPoint will see a faster connection, and even more reliable service, and those who host from the Libery Lake center will have more bandwidth available, said Dan Seliger, one of the partners of the company.

With the new data center, roughly 10,000 square feet, TierPoint is adopting a Green approach to cooling, relying on a system that will draw underground water and use it to cool off the rack room.

About $4.1 million of capital for the project came from financing from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch; another $3.1 million came from Evergreen Business Capital; with another $3.1 million provided by a small business loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

TIerPoint, which was founded by tech guru Bernard Daines, provided the remaining $1.0 million.

It’s expected to be operating next spring.