Theft total rises to $1.2M | SteamboatToday.com

Theft total rises to $1.2M

Bank tellers released on $20K bond, could face up to 15 years if convicted

Melinda Dudley

— Steamboat Springs police now say as much as $1.2 million was stolen from Alpine Bank account holders during a 2 1/2-year period in what is being called the largest local theft in recent memory.

The two Routt County women arrested in connection with the case, Terri Dawn Moody Fatka and Pamela Jean Williams, were released from Routt County Jail on $20,000 bond Thursday night.

Williams, a Milner resident, and Fatka, who lives on Routt County Road 41A south of Steamboat Springs, were arrested Thursday morning at the downtown Steamboat Springs branch of Bank of the West, where both were employed as tellers.

The women are accused of stealing $1.2 million from multiple account holders at Alpine Bank, where they previously worked.

Williams and Fatka are charged with theft more than $20,000, a Class 3 felony, and forgery, a Class 5 felony. They face up to 15 years in jail if convicted on both charges.

Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae would not say how the women are alleged to have stolen the money or what led investigators to them. Rae said only that money reported stolen from banks can often be tracked.

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“There’s always a paper trail,” he said Friday.

Paul Fatka, Terri’s husband, declined to comment when reached by telephone Friday night. Williams does not have a listed phone number.

Police still are searching for additional victims in the ongoing investigation, Rae said. Five victims have been identified thus far. Rae said the total dollar value of the thefts could continue to rise if additional victims are identified. He urged customers to carefully check their bank statements.

“This is the largest theft that we’ve seen in terms of a dollar amount,” said Rae, a 12-year veteran of the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

Police are investigating whether any Bank of the West customers lost money. Williams and Fatka have worked at Bank of the West since January.

Representatives of Alpine Bank and Bank of the West have declined to comment about the case.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office began a joint investigation last month after two Alpine Bank customers reported large sums of money missing from their accounts. The losses at Alpine Bank took place during the past 2 1/2 years, which corresponds to the time the women worked there, Rae said. Williams and Fatka left Alpine Bank the last week of December and began working at Bank of the West within a week of one another, he said.

Local law enforcement officers have been aided by an investigator from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, who arrived in Steamboat on Tuesday at the request of Alpine Bank.

Deputies from the Routt County Sheriff’s Office searched the women’s homes Thursday morning as part of their investigation.

Both women are longtime Routt County residents, each having graduated high school here. Both are 41, and both have two children.

Williams and Fatka are due to appear in Routt County Court at 8:30 a.m. April 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.