Craig 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.
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