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

Banker gets 2 years in prison
By Staff Reports
Aug 9, 2013, 11:35

The former manager of a bank branch in Colonial Heights was sentenced to two years in prison after she defrauded a dozen clients out of thousands of dollars.

Shannon S. Hamilton of Prince George was sentenced Aug. 1 in federal court in Richmond. She pleaded guilty May 1 to one count of bank fraud but admitted to numerous victims in signing the agreement.

Hamilton was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $155,220.27.

The defense had asked the judge for a prison term on the low end of the sentencing guidelines.

But prosecutors asked for at least 27 months in prison, even though she “suffered through some unfortunate circumstances in her childhood.” They said the events couldn’t be tied to this scheme, which occurred when she was 39-43 years old, according to court documents.

Prosecutors also argued that a suicide attempt soon after her scheme was uncovered “is concerning but is not a mitigating factor for sentencing purposes.” They say it happened soon after the bank fired four tellers that she used in the scheme and she realized charges were pending.

Hamilton 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.

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