July 12, 2018

Former Athol bank employee indicted for $100K embezzlement

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Athol Savings Bank's location on Main Street

A former Athol Savings Bank employee has been indicted on charges of embezzling more than $100,000 from customer accounts beginning in August 2016 to last December.

Jessica Vargas, 34, of Athol, faces one count of bank fraud and two counts of bank embezzlement. She was originally charged by federal prosecutors via criminal complaint in March.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts, Vargas took $108,000 by making unauthorized cash withdrawals from customer accounts. Bank documents showed she embezzled more than $53,000 from an 84-year-old customer and another $13,000 from an 88-year-old customer.

Vargas faces up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a $1-million fine.

According to court documents, an 88-year-old customer notified the bank of a $2,000 withdrawal made in December she did not remember making. After conducting a review, bank employees found no withdrawal slip for that transaction.

After further review of teller documents associated with Vargas, employees saw that numerous withdrawal slips were missing for the 84-year-old customer as well.

When confronted by bank employees, Vargas eventually admitted to taking no more than $10,000 and later amended her answer to no more than $20,000.

Using video footage compared with timing of withdrawals, the bank was able to determine that Vargas processed a total of $108,171 in unauthorized withdrawal between August 2016 and December 2017.

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