Former Manager Blames Gambling for Crime
October 30, 2014
A serious gambling addiction drove a former credit union manager to embezzle $250,000 from two Pennsylvania financial institutions, according to court documents filed in federal court.
Tiffany Kay Look was charged with stealing more than $135,000 from the $2.5 billion Members 1st Federal Credit Union in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and $115,000 from Mid Penn Bank, the documents said.
The 40-year-old mother used the funds to fuel a serious gambling addiction, according to a court document filed by Look’s lawyer.
In December 2013, Look was charged with more than 20 counts, including theft by deception, forgery, mail fraud, access device fraud, identity theft, including stealing from a dead member’s estate, according to court records.
She pleaded guilty in May to one charge of mail fraud, which carries a maximum jail term of 25 years and up to $250,000 fine, according to court documents.
Look is scheduled to be sentenced in November.
Attorney Mark Winter of Hershey, Pa., who represents Look, has asked for the court’s leniency in sentencing.
Winter pointed out to the judge that Look immediately confessed to police and had received treatment for her gambling addiction, the court documents said.
“She has fully acknowledged her commission of a series of incidents in which she abused her position of trust as a bank officer in order to steal money from the accounts of elderly victims and use those funds to finance her gambling addiction,” Smith stated in an Oct. 9 sentencing memorandum.
During the year since Look was first confronted by local police and the U.S. Postal inspector, she admitted her crimes, fully cooperated with all aspects of the investigation, sought therapy and shown remorse for her actions, Smith said.
“She fully accepts the fact that a custodial sentence must be imposed as punishment for her actions,” Smith continued. “She has stolen money from people who trusted her and thought she was their friend. She violated not only the trust of her clients, but also the trust of two employers who paid her a good salary with the expectation that she would properly represent their interests.”
Winter said the defendant experienced a troubled childhood that led to her negative behavior, but she has taken steps to address the issues, such as signing herself out of all Pennsylvania casinos for life through the state gaming commission.
“Upon consideration of Tiffany Look’s offenses, her personal history and her actions taken to obtain treatment, provide cooperation and show remorse, the Court should consider a custodial sentence at the low end of whatever sentencing guideline the Court feels is most appropriate in this case,” Winter stated.
But prosecutors this week asked the judge to stick with the recommended sentencing guidelines and impose a prison term of 33 to 41 months, the court documents said.
“In this case, the court should well consider the impact of the defendant’s actions on the victims,” U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith stated in an Oct. 27 sentencing memorandum.
“Although each of the individual victims was reimbursed by the financial institution for their personal losses, there is no escaping the impact of the defendant’s actions,” Smith said.
Smith’s argument highlighted one victim who provided a comment about the crime:
“She not only stole, she lied. She set up a fake email account for me. I don’t even have a computer.
She came to my home to try to convince me that it was all a mistake,” the victim said, according to court documents. “She knew exactly what she was doing. I cannot decipher the mental physical and emotional anguish she caused. I no longer trust anyone.”
While prosecutors expressed some sympathy, they said Look should receive the recommended sentence since she had already received leniency in her plea agreement.
“The United States recognizes the difficulties the defendant has faced in her life...as well as her confession when confronted by law enforcement and her willingness to plead guilty to the offense,” Smith wrote. “Nonetheless, the United States believes a sentence within the advisory guidelines range is appropriate in this case.”
Members 1st bank manager stole $62,000 from dead woman's estate, charging documents show
Tiffany Kay Look, 39, of Hummelstown, is accused of stealing $136,160 as she worked at two midstate banks. (Hampden Township police)