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Judge gives embezzler two years in federal prison

POSTED July 8, 2011 9:14 p.m.

A Delhi woman previously convicted of embezzling money from a bank was sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison Wednesday at the conclusion of a hearing at the U.S. District Court in Fresno.

Norma Pena had been convicted of embezzling funds from the Citibank branch in Ceres, where she was employed as an assistant bank manager.

According to court documents, the embezzlement occurred between March 2009 and February 2010, with Pena stealing an estimated $217,000 during that time.

To carry out her embezzlement, Pena created and manipulated a virtual teller cash drawer to hide her theft of funds. When Pena received cash, instead of placing it in her cash drawer, she would keep some of it for herself. The branch accounting system would nevertheless electronically show that the cash had been placed in her cash drawer. As a result, her cash drawer contained less cash than the amount shown electronically.

To hide this discrepancy, Pena would make electronic transfers, purportedly from her cash drawer to the branch ATMs, without actually transferring any cash. Pena would then oversee the ATM cash counts and added the amounts stolen to the amounts counted in order to balance the ATMs electronically.

U.S. District Judge O’Neill found that Pena engaged in a long-term, sophisticated crime and ordered that she pay more than $217,000 in restitution in addition to her prison sentence.

This case was the product of an extensive investigation by the FBI and Ceres Police Department after the embezzlement was discovered by Citibank investigators. Assistant United States Attorney Ian L. Garriques prosecuted the case.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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