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Woman charged in $200,000 theft at bank

April 19, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A Washington County woman is accused of stealing more than $200,000 from a Hagerstown Trust Co. branch where she worked, according to charging documents filed Friday in Washington County District Court.

Tami Sue Souders, 37, of 21625 Mount Lena Road near Boonsboro was charged with one count each of a theft scheme in an amount more than $300 and a theft scheme in an amount more than $500. Both are felonies.

Charging documents allege that Souders, a data processor, used her position to take bank money and deposit it in her personal accounts over a four-year period. She tried to cover up by shifting funds from one account to another, the documents allege.

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No customer accounts were affected by the thefts, a bank official said Friday.

Souders was arrested Friday.

During a hearing, Souders told District Court Commissioner Kathy McCrea she had planned a trip but would return May 1. McCrea released Souders on $25,000 unsecured bond and set a trial for June 25.

Souders would not comment on the charges.

According to charging documents, Hagerstown Trust Co. bank officials met with Hagerstown City Police on Jan. 30 after uncovering possible thefts.

Hagerstown Trust Senior Vice President Dave Barnhart said the alleged scheme involved internal accounts used for settlement functions between banks.

According to the charging documents, the alleged transactions went unnoticed from April 1998 until November 2002.

In the court documents, police allege Souders used three bank accounts to deposit $205,726, using about $3,400 to pay off bills and eventually clearing out all the money.

Souders began working at Hagerstown Trust in August 1992, where she opened her first checking account, according to the documents.

Souders left the bank when her job was eliminated in August 2002 for reasons unrelated to the alleged criminal activity. In November 2002 bank auditors were alerted to the discrepancies, the documents said.

According to the charging documents, Souders wrote an e-mail to bank officials Dec. 12, 2002, in response to questions about her accounts. In that e-mail, Souders said "she had created a mess ... that she was embarrassed and sick over the thought of what's going on," the documents said.

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