A 29-year-old former bank teller, who admitted embezzling $66,000 from elderly clients, was sentenced Tuesday to three years in Nevada state prison, and ordered to pay restitution after she gets out.
District Judge Michael Gibbons, acknowledging that defendant Jeanne Dey had no prior criminal record, said he couldn’t overlook the intentional and premeditated nature of her crime, in taking money from her clients’ accounts over a 14-month period until she got caught.
“These people were particularly vulnerable, they were elderly, some with deterioration of their mental health. This is the worst kind of crime,” Gibbons said.
The crimes reportedly took place in 2010 and 2011.
Dey was accused of setting up accounts, then archiving the accounts so the victims didn’t receive statements.
She withdrew money from the accounts.
The thefts came to light when a victim’s daughter discovered $8,000 had been withdrawn from her mother’s account within 12 hours of her death.
According to the criminal complaint, Dey embezzled $16,000 from the 82-year-old victim who died; $29,000 from an 89-year-old man and his 85-year-old wife, and $8,000 from an 83-year-old man and his 86-year-old wife.
The fourth count involved $13,675 from a victim who was not elderly.
Gibbons said a crime of this nature affected its victims as if it were a crime against a person.
“This isn’t going to go away,” Gibbons said. “People (victims) feel like they’ve been stabbed in the back. They are very angry. It will take a long time to recover.”
“There aren’t words I can say for the amount of remorse I feel for my victims,” Dey said.
She said she suffered from mental illness “which causes erratic behavior. I do things out of character. I do accept full responsibility and want to make restitution,” she said.
She asked Gibbons for leniency as she is the sole custodian of her young son.
“I know this is very difficult on your family and your child,” Gibbons said, “but you brought this on yourself. You had the chance to stop, to make it right, and you didn’t do it. I look at it in terms of the repeated nature of the offense,”
Dey must serve a minimum of 12 months before she is eligible for parole.
Sentencing was continued from Monday after questions were raised about Dey’s employment and her ability to pay restitution.
Prosecutor Erik Levin said his investigator was unable to prove that a Texas company or its employees existed which Dey claimed was holding a position for her depending on whether she went to prison.
Levin said he believed the information was fabricated in an effort for Dey to get probation.
He accused Dey of “high-tech grave robbery,” noting that she embezzled $8,000 from a client’s account 12 hours after the woman died.
“It was despicable,” Levin said. “She’s a thief, she’s a liar, she’s a con artist, and the court is the intended victim for her next scam.”
Dey presented Gibbons with a $10,000 restitution check on Monday from the account of her boyfriend’s father.
Levin read a letter from Elaine Roper, whose deceased mother was one of Dey’s victims.
“You are the worst kind of predator,” Roper said. “You apparently don’t have a conscience, or you wouldn’t have looked me in the eye with tears in your eyes telling me how much you loved my mother. Then you took $8,000 from her account within 12 hours after she passed away.”
Roper said Dey told her not to worry about the money, that the bank would cover it. She said her family felt so close to Dey that the defendant was invited to take clothing that belonged to her dead mother.
“That small amount of money you took represented a lifetime of hard work by my mother and my father. My mother wouldn’t ever touch the money. She wanted to leave it to her three children,” Roper said.
Two U.S. Bank officials testified Monday they would rather see Dey go to prison, even though probation might mean she could start paying restitution sooner than if she had to wait until after her sentence was served. After her arrest, they said Dey manufactured e-mails supposedly sent by them where she claimed they took responsibility for what she did.
“She damaged our reputations and we could have been let go for what she said in those e-mails,” said Brynn Bertucci, manager of the Gardnerville branch.
Bertucci said Dey’s former clients continue to question whether their accounts are accurate.
The losses were covered by the bank which is out $58,675, according to court documents.
Dey’s attorney, Richard Davies, asked for probation for his client.
“This is a property crime, which is distinctly different from a crime against a person. She (Dey) has no criminal history and expressed regrets. It’s egregious, these are vulnerable victims, It’s bad, but weigh it against what it is. These things can be fixed.”
He argued if Dey went to prison, it would be unlikely that she would be able to pay restitution when she got out.