Bank theft details surface

Police say Williams, Fatka forged forms

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Routt County Sheriff's Office

Terri Dawn Moody Fatka

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Routt County Sheriff's Office

Pamela Jean Williams

— The $1.2 million reported stolen from accounts at the Steamboat Springs branch of Alpine Bank is suspected to have come from forged "advice of charge" forms, according to police arrest warrants.

Routt County residents Pamela Jean Williams and Terri Dawn Moody Fatka were arrested Feb. 21 on suspicion of stealing the money when they worked as bank tellers at Alpine Bank. Each woman has been charged with felony theft and forgery.

The investigation is ongoing with at least five Alpine Bank account holders identified as victims, Steamboat Springs police Detective Jerry Stabile said.

Police believe the thefts took place between April 2005 and Jan. 3, 2008, according to the arrest warrants that are part of Williams' and Fatka's case files at the Routt County Justice Center. Both women left their jobs at Alpine Bank on Jan. 4, 2008, and took jobs at Bank of the West shortly thereafter. The thefts are thought to have occurred only at Alpine Bank.

The arrest warrants provide insight into how police think the money was stolen. An "advice of charge" form is an internal document used to keep track of withdrawals and to balance withdrawals.

"Say if somebody came into the bank and didn't have a check and didn't want to use a counter check and wanted to withdraw the money from their account, they would fill out that form to get the money," Stabile said. "After those funds are drawn, that 'advice of charge' is used to balance that particular drawer."

At least 95 of those forms were used to draw more than $828,000 from a single Alpine Bank account, according to police. The holder of that account told police he thinks an unauthorized hold had been applied to his account off and on during the course of a year, restricting him from access to his bank statements. When the victim asked Pamela Jean Williams for his bank statements, he alleges that Williams told him "there was a computer problem and the statements could not be sent right away," according to the warrant for Williams' arrest.

Each of the 95 advice of charge forms was for a cash withdrawal, and the victim said his signature was forged on all of them.

A second victim alleged bank employees used at least 38 advice of charge forms to withdraw $96,400 from his account. Both victims said they did not routinely use advice of charge forms to withdraw money.

All advice of charge forms identified in the investigation were marked with teller identification numbers issued to Williams and Fatka, according to the arrest warrants. Teller identification numbers are password-protected and non-transferable.

Alpine Bank teller tapes - records from each business day that track the nature of every transaction and the teller who made them - indicate Williams or Fatka performed all the allegedly fraudulent advice of charge transactions, according to the arrest warrants.

Charles Feldmann, defense counsel for Pamela Jean Williams, could not be reached by phone Friday or Sunday.

In a statement released at the end of February, Feldmann said, "We need to let the legal process work its course and avoid a rush to judgment on these matters. Pam is a good person, and a good mother and wife. It is important for us to all allow the system to work fairly and not to start throwing stones at her when a thorough investigation has not even been completed.

"There is much more to this case and these accusations that will be made public as these proceedings progress," he said.

Fatka and Williams were released from Routt County Jail on $20,000 bond Feb. 21. Each woman is charged with theft of more than $20,000, a Class 3 felony, and forgery, a Class 5 felony. Williams and Fatka are due to appear in Routt County Court at 8:30 a.m. April 1.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

handyman 6 years, 9 months ago

tweetybird - These "girls" are adult women. Do you refer to adult men as "boys" in the business world?

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bigdog 6 years, 9 months ago

the most amazing part of this story is that the dimwits (criminals) thought they would not be caught? How long would an account holder wait for "computer" problems to be solved to see their statements? 1 month, 2 months, a year? Sooner or later......

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 9 months ago

Fellow commentors:

  • Aren't you surprised that this is just happening in Steamboat?

  • Why don't we hear about this on the national level?

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seeuski 6 years, 9 months ago

stompk, What? Hindsight is 20 20, are you saying the victims are to blame?

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digit1964 6 years, 9 months ago

Its pretty clear she used her brain ... you should try it another_local

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

Id, where are you coming up with the things in your post? Do you have ANY basis for them at all or are they simply your fantasies?

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id04sp 6 years, 9 months ago

Nurmidst,

If I was doing it for that reason, it wouldn't be a shot at Wall. It would be an acknowledgement that elder watch had been ineffective in the past, and while having a neat name and a fun job running around checking on old folks, it did not result in detection of this crime. By the way, have you noticed that we're not seeing incidents where elders have suffered some harm because RCSO is not regularly looking in on the them? Elder Watch did nothing valuable in the past, because if it had, people would be suffering now, right?

Also, ACET is doing better since RCSO dropped out. That tells me that RCSO was a hinderance in the past.

In both cases, the implication is that Wall having gotten rid of former employees has enhanced the effectiveness of the RCSO. This could be due to (1) incompetence in the past or (2) actual misuse of a law enforcement position to conceal trafficking and exploitation of elders.

The John Walker spy case helps to illustrate what can happen. While Walker was supplying the Soviets with code cypher keys, the Soviets were able to read our operational Naval messages and use that information against us. That's why there was always a Soviet "trawler" around when we launched a Polaris missile; they knew it was going to happen. The dumb Navy never figured out that the only way the Soviets could be that good at guessing what was going to happen was for a trusted officer in a sensitive position of great responsibility to be selling secrets to the enemy. Nobody believed that there could be a traitor involved, so they never looked for one.

Some people have claimed that Wall's policies have harmed the community, but after a year in office, we don't see evidence of harm. In fact, we see evidence of good. Nobody has any solid evidence to show that officers involved in GRAMNET or Elder Watch were involved in protecting traffickers or preventing fellow officers from catching crooks who were victimizing elders. It's just worth noticing that removal of officers from those assignments by Mr. Wall seems to coincide with ACET doing a better job of catching traffickers, and with a "potential" bank scam against elders having been discovered. We know there was a scam, and that there were victims, but we don't know if they were elderly people yet. I'd say that's likely, but still to be shown.

It's well known among people who went to RCSO for help in the past that (1) anything that didn't involve violent crime was declared to be a "civil matter" by the RCSO, and (2) that turning in a criminal by giving information to the RCSO just didn't work. You had to have blood or some compelling, emergency reason for them to do anything at all. So, they were either incompetent to handle anything more than traffic, gunfire and wife beatings, OR they let everything else go as a matter of policy. They'd take a report you could file with your insurance company if you had a theft, and that's about it.

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stompk 6 years, 9 months ago

The bank manager/president didn't catch these transactions? Who does accounting for the bank?? What about the account holder? 95 withdraws went unnoticed by both the bank and the account holder? Hmmm. One phone call would have stopped this.

What's that smell? Smells like fish. A big fat green greedy fish.

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id04sp 6 years, 9 months ago

The victims would have to be (1) very wealthy or (2) somehow impaired or (3) not very concerned with money matters.

They could have been older people, suffering from a serious illness, without families to look after them. When bank tellers ask, "How are you today?" they often get to hear details of a person's illness, loneliness, etc. If you were going to take money out of someone's bank account, wouldn't you pick someone who was impaired by age or illness? These women may have been "banking" on the chance that the victims would pass away before they were caught, and there wouldn't be anyone who knew enough about the victim's business to question the withdrawals.

Also, if you saw that someone had a large bank account that got regular deposits on top of a high balance, skimming off the deposits as they arrived would be easy to do.

Many times, older people suffering from Alzheimers or other dementia are careless with financial matters. One of my great aunts, who passed away in her nineties, had unopened mail stashed in her roll-top desk that went back more than two years. The mail included checks, bills, notices, etc. She was well-set financially and had her monthly utility bills paid automatically, and wrote checks for groceries in the same store where she had traded for more than 30 years. She had enough money that the "details" just didn't catch up with her.

A great uncle who died of Alzheimers was similarly vulnerable to such crimes, but he didn't have as much money. My father was managing his finances and finally discovered that the uncle was taking cash out of the bank and giving it to the workers at his retirement home. He would get on the shuttle van furnished by the home, go to the bank, withdraw money, give it away, and never remember where it had gone by the next day.

It's interesting that the "Elder Watch" program cancelled by Gary Wall did not discover this crime. We don't know yet how the crime was actually discovered, but it was obviously after Elder Watch was gone.

Hmmmmm. RCSO pulls out of GRAMNET, and ACET becomes more effective.

Hmmmmm. RCSO terminates Elder Watch and these crimes come to light. Won't it be interesting if these victims were elderly and impaired, and Elder Watch dropped the ball . . . or worse?

If these "dimwits" as another poster called them thought they would not be caught, could it be they felt safe because some of the money was going to people in a position to head-off investigations by saying that the victims were elderly people who withdrew money at the bank teller's window, and then did "who know's what?" with it?

Okay, yeah, call me a conspiracy nut. Then YOU come up with a real-life scenario that explains what happened. Thank God the FDIC is involved, so maybe this one won't be pled down to loitering or indecent exposure.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 9 months ago

Elder abuse is on the rise in the USA. It is well documented. Abuse does not have to be physical. It can also be financial. It is very sad.

The victims of the alleged bank abuse by these bank tellers may not be aware of what has happened to them. Hopefully they have family or friends that are responsible enough to see them through this ordeal.

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 9 months ago

stompk, I believe it is easy to question the banks oversight, being that most of us notice our shortages on our bank statements. I think that some folks have an accountant or a bookeeper, that have holdings of this size. Their could of been a clitch in that protocol.

id04sp, That was a pretty good scenerio you exhibited. All in the possiblities of things one could speculate happened.

all, I have a hard time with this issue. For number one, these are people a lot of us know, whom may have committed this crime. Secondly, I can tolerate personal violations in a lot of ways with exhibiting much restraint but, thievery makes my blood boil! It's a very personal crime. Thievery of this magnitude is absolutely borderline, unforgivable! I believe this crime probably will be treated as a slap on the wrist. The reason I believe this, is because the alleged perpetrators, have no priors that we know of! In my opinion, white collar crimes of theft, are treated very differently. A person with a brief case can steal more money than a man with a gun! However, the man with a gun goes away forever and the man with a brief case, who has done more damage, gets sent to a country club! Have a good day!

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justmyopinion 6 years, 9 months ago

My questions is.....Where did all that money go??? Drugs, gambling....and how did the spouses not know?

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

digit... ? There is no mention of the victims being seniors in any story I have seen. Sorry if I missed something but if there has not been any mention of that, I wonder where Id's scenario comes from. You on the other hand... well, never mind you would not understand.

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question 6 years, 9 months ago

Tired of hearing about victims that "should have" -- REGARDLESS - theft is WRONG -- just because they got away with it for a while -- and the bank obviously did not have appropriate controls in place, MORALLY their actions are NOT ACCEPTABLE!

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id04sp 6 years, 9 months ago

Local,

If one finds a hole in the roof and a rock on the living room floor, it might be a meteorite, or it could have come from a volcanic eruption, or it could have been dropped from an airplane. It could have been fired from a catapult, or a cannon. What would you think is the most reasonable explanation? I was just taking the few known facts and trying to understand how this could have happened.

What's your theory on the reason that a person wouldn't notice large amounts of cash missing from their account? Trust funder? Billionaire, too busy to care?

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nurmidst 6 years, 9 months ago

wow i thought you came up with that theory just to take a shot at Wall and pat acet on the back! why do you think we need all these special task forces can't a call to the often mentioned crime stoppers hotline or just a call to the police get the same response? Does the elderly watch keep tabs on all the elderlies bank accounts? Why go to all the trouble to speculate about such a thing? Already looks like people are taking your speculation as fact, lets wait for the facts before we start the public lynching!

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JLM 6 years, 9 months ago

The supervision of this bank was inept. This number of entries is excessive and should have been routinely "proofed" and then audited. This is a failure of supervision and garden variety theft.

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id04sp 6 years, 9 months ago

Wannabe,

Our favorite federal government has thresholds for what they consider important. This was basically a crime of embezzlement, and if it had not affected a federal agency (FDIC) it would have been too small for the feds to bother UNLESS there was an armed bank robbery. The FBI has federal jurisdiction over bank robberies because back in the old days of Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, etc., the crooks would flee across state lines to escape capture. That's when bank robbery became a federal crime, allowing the crooks to be arrested wherever they could be found.

Lots of small crimes go on in small towns because local LE agencies don't have the talent or numbers of officers required to prosecute them. Do you really expect somebody with a GED and 9 to 18 weeks of POST traning at a junior college to be able to investigate economic crimes? I'd bet that most of the local officers pay somebody to do their taxes for them (or get it gratis . . . ).

A lot of this stuff requires a degree in accounting, or law, and years of experience in the private sector to be able to understand it. A cop can understand it if your neighbor knocks you down for sleeping with his wife. Asking a local cop to understand that state employees who concealed documents filed in a lawsuit, so they would not be considered by the judge hearing the case, committed obstruction of justice is just, well, it's pi$$ing into the wind. In the first place, they're not trained in those aspects of the law (because it doesn't involve running a radar gun, donuts or answering noise complaints), and in the second place, the chief of their agency would never support it.

The purpose of a law is to regulate behavior and punish offenders. When those charged with enforcing the law don't do so, or become immune from prosecution because of their position and power, the system breaks down. That's why, so often, you only see cases like this one in the news after the federal government becomes involved. The rest of the time, either nothing is done, or it's left to the victim to fight it in civil court, which eliminates anyone who doesn't have money up front (starting price: $20,000).

You can probably bank on (I love it!) the fact that these ladies did not have money to repay the bank. If they had, it would probably have been written off to "a computer error" and they would have been allowed to resign to avoid adverse publicity for the bank, and none of us would have ever known about it.

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katrinkakelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Last paragraph is perfect Id! Hope they do not take our posts into court, Haha. You got it! What a mouth full.

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424now 6 years, 9 months ago

There is a lot of info and little fact in this thread.

id,

A well thought out line of events in a potential situation. In fact fact the scenario has a mid to high probability of accuracy.

We still don't know all the facts. I honestly don't get it. What is the delay in release of the facts in this case. Is money talking and we don't know who the victioms are because they are of course influential and have asked not to be identified to save face? Who else could have $96,000.00 stolen and not notice?!?!

Yes we need to wait until we have all the information before we lynch someone but we should have some sturdy rope on hand anyway.

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id04sp 6 years, 9 months ago

I would be very embarrassed if this had happened to me. Maybe there are elderly people involved, and they feel hurt and humiliation about it.

We don't need to expose the victims to public attention unless they are required to testify in court.

As I've written before, the victims were either unaware, impaired, or had something to hide (like proceeds from trafficking or other illegal activity, or maybe a spouse squirrelling away money to hide it from the other, etc.).

Victims have a right to privacy. I suppose somebody will use a freedom-of-information request to find it out, but what purpose would it serve? I'm willing to wait and see, and just hope that other people benefit from these discoveries so that similar crimes can be prevented, no matter what the reasons turn out to be.

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424now 6 years, 9 months ago

We should all of us be willing to wait for the facts to come out. I am simply wondering why there is a delay in the disclosure of the events.

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stayinbalance 6 years, 9 months ago

My favorite part of the story is the paragraph about Pam being a "good" person and "good" mother. Since when is a felony thief considered good??? How can a mother be defined as good when she sets a wonderful example of stealing and when she gets taken away to the big house, abandoning her kids?? How twisted and deranged can you get?

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 9 months ago

They still will have their day in court. They are innocent until proven guilty. Some of the facts that we are hearing about may be evidence of their alleged crime. But the story in the paper about them is still true also. They may be "GOOD" in one aspect of their lives and still make a terrible mistake.

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oldskoolstmbt 6 years, 8 months ago

outofbalance-wow...i guess we just need to come to you...THE ALL-KNOWING ONE.....i wasn't aware pam has been convicted of this crime or any others

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