Woman pleads guilty to stealing money from bank where she worked

3 years 6 days 4 hours ago Tuesday, September 15 2015 Sep 15, 2015 Tuesday, September 15, 2015 6:09:00 PM CDT September 15, 2015 in News
By: Jenna Middaugh, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - A woman pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to embezzling more than $400,000 from the bank where she was employed.

29-year-old Katherine Brown was the lead teller at Hawthorn Bank in Jefferson City. Prosecutors say she embezzled $410,000 from December 2012 to Sept. 19, 2014, by taking money from the bank vault.

U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said Brown admitted she started taking the money when her husband had shoulder surgery in 2012 and couldn't work. She said she would take the money in small amounts and put it in her pockets.

Brown would plug in certain amounts in the vault book to make the book match the vault's balance in the bank's computer accounting system. She also said she made false entries into the computer system when the bank had an internal audit in December 2012.

On Sept. 19, 2014, Dickinson said, Brown prepared and shipped five bags of cash to the Federal Reserve Bank. She prepared and labeled the bags, which were bar-coded and tamper proof. She said the total amount of cash shipped to the Federal Reserve Board was $844,000. The Federal Reserve Board counted the money and found it was only $434,000.

Brown left for maternity leave after shipping the money.

Dickinson said the Federal Reserve reported the shortage to the bank, which then conducted an audit of the vault. The audit found certain entries made in the vault book showed cash amounts being sent to bank branches in Columbia and California were $200,000 higher than the branches actually ordered.

Bank officials discovered the vault did not have as much cash as the bank's computer system recorded. Auditors figured out Brown had to report more money to the Federal Reserve Board so the bank's computer system would be balanced.

According to Dickinson, Brown could face up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million.

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