Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Former banker guilty of fraud
By James Peacemaker, Jr., Managing Editor
May 13, 2013, 13:46

The former manager of a bank branch in Colonial Heights faces prison time after she defrauded a dozen clients out of thousands of dollars.

Shannon S. Hamilton of Prince George pleaded guilty May 1 to one count of bank fraud but admitted to numerous victims in signing the agreement.

She was branch manager at the South Park branch of SunTrust Bank in Colonial Heights from February 2008 until November 2011.

She used her position at the bank to take money from clients through a series of secret and unauthorized transactions using certificates of deposit and checking accounts.

A certificate of deposit is a type of investment that has a fixed date of maturity at a preset interest rate. There is typically a penalty for early withdrawal.

In the scheme, Hamilton redeemed the certificates of deposit or withdrew money from them without clients’ knowledge. She used the money for personal purposes such as repaying a 401K loan and for living expenses and to perpetuate the scheme by repaying previous victims by buying new CDs or returning funds that were removed.

Court documents say she violated several internal bank rules by ordering tellers to make withdrawals from customers’ accounts without them being present, redeeming CDs using cash rather than bank-issued checks, or forged endorsements on the checks that were issued. She also changed the addresses listed for the accounts to the bank’s address so customers would not see the unauthorized transactions on statements.

Internal bank procedures say that the owner of a certificate of deposit must be present to redeem it. All statements must be sent to the client’s home address and not the bank address.

In all, she took money from 12 clients and caused the bank to lose $155,000.

In one example used in the charging document, a series of transactions took $15,000 from an 81-year-old woman.

Hamilton faces a maximum sentence of 30 years with up to $1 million fine.

Under the plea agreement Hamilton agrees to provide the court with a full financial statement under penalty of perjury and to pay restitution.

No promises was made by prosecutors and the judge is set to determine the sentence. The agreement recognizes however that the defendant cooperated with authorities and avoided using the government’s resources for a trial.

A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 1.

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