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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gambling addicted bank manager gets federal prison for stealing from elderly customers

Notice that the casinos are unnamed and they get to keep the $$$$!

Gambling addicted bank manager gets federal prison for stealing from elderly customers

HARRISBURG - Former bank manager Tiffany K. Look was visibly distraught even before a federal judge walked into the courtroom Monday morning.
She had reason to be.

Moments later, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III sentenced Look, 40, of Harrisburg, to 2 years in federal prison for stealing nearly $140,000 from elderly customers.

Look's lawyer, A. Mark Winter, said she committed the crimes while in the grip of a gambling addiction.

"At the end of the day, I knew right from wrong. And I chose wrong," a tearful and apologetic Look told the judge. "I have no excuses."

"This is the most virulent gambling addiction I've ever seen," Jones said. "This is a fairly audacious and almost inexplicable crime. I guess the casinos pulled you down."

Look's sentencing came seven months after federal authorities charged her with stealing from four customers of Mid Penn Bank and Members 1st Federal Credit Union between 2007 and 2013. She was a manager at Members 1st's Camp Hill branch when the crimes were discovered in late 2013.
Look pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge.

Two of her victims were homebound with medical problems. Look also stole from the account of a customer who died from cancer in his mid-50s.

"I did it for really selfish reasons," Look told Jones, citing the pull of her gambling urge. She said she is receiving counseling. Winter said her friends and family, about 20 of whom watched the sentencing hearing, will be there to support her recovery when she gets out of prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J. Terz called Look a "predator."

"She sought them out. They were vulnerable," he said of the victims. Look's actions also harmed the reputation of her employers, he said.

Still, although she initially lied to bank security about the thefts, Look quickly confessed when federal agents began investigating, Terz said.

None of the victims were present, but Charles McBreen, a Members 1st assistant vice president, spoke for them. Look, once a "trusted member of our management team," knew most of the victims and had even been in their homes, McBreen said.

She used her knowledge to take out a $25,000 personal loan in one victim's name without the customer's knowledge. She siphoned off another's Social Security payment, McBreen said, and cut herself a $62,000 check from the account of the client who had died as that victim's elderly parents sat in her office. In another case, she drew $43,000 in cash from a victim's account and simply walked out of the bank, he said.

While the financial institutions have made the victims whole, "they have lost trust," McBreen said. "These were unsuspecting, elderly people," he said. "People like we will be some day."

Jones told Look, who has been banned by FDIC from working in the financial industry, that she must have known her crimes would be discovered. "You were totally off the rails," he said. "I guess, in the end, it was all about you and your gambling."

Jones noted that Look had a prior criminal conviction for passing bad checks, but said he believes she has demonstrated "heartfelt contrition" for the gambling-inspired thefts. "You have to pay the price," Jones said in imposing the prison term, a consecutive 3 years of probation and an order for $139,820 in restitution.

Still, he said he doesn't regard Look as irredeemable. "Maybe you can look at this as a fresh start…and make something good out of it," Jones said.

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