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Woman sentenced in embezzlement

April 10, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley Springs, W.Va., woman was sentenced to two months in prison Thursday after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling money from a bank to please her boyfriend.

U.S. District Judge Craig Broadwater also sentenced Chantel Durene, 21, of 801 Johnson Mill Road, to four months on electronic monitoring after her release from prison.

Durene was charged with embezzling $38,000 to $42,0000 while working at the Valley Road branch of Citizens National Bank in Berkeley Springs. The charges involved eight incidents between March 1997 and May 1997, when money was skimmed from a vault where tellers' drawers were kept, prosecutors said.

A psychiatrist and a counselor testified Thursday that Durene has a mental disorder likely caused by sexual abuse as a child.

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Gail A. Shade, a licensed professional counselor and social worker in Berkeley Springs, said Durene wanted acceptance from her boyfriend, Brian Michael.

"Chantel's personality is such that she was very vulnerable, very needy and very much wanted to be loved," Shade said.

Durene's attorney, Kevin Mills of Martinsburg, said she never had a date before she met Michael, a Morgantown, W.Va., student.

Durene began paying his bills, gave him credit cards and wired him money while he was in Germany, Mills said.

"Around December 1996, she felt very desperate," Shade said. "She was running out of money and she couldn't please him."

Dr. Leroy Stone, a forensic clinical psychologist, testified Durene suffers from a personality disorder.

"The person is in touch with reality, but they have a distorted sense if who they are, what they are and where they are," Stone said.

Stone said Durene had "minimal awareness" when she took money from the bank, but can't recollect exactly what happened. Shade suggested amnesia also played a part.

Both said sexual abuse as a child led to Durene's psychological disorder.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mucklow scoffed at their diagnoses.

"You have a woman who comes to you, is going to be charged with a serious crime, has retained a lawyer, has been interviewed by the FBI, has confessed to embezzlement, and all of a sudden comes to you for treatment," Mucklow said.

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