(Bloomberg News) A former Wachovia Bank manager in Virginia pleaded guilty to stealing $14.1 million from bank clients over seven years by persuading them to invest in a bogus wealth-management account.
Linda Speaks Tribby, 42, of Lovettsville, Va, used the funds to buy a helicopter, a luxury motor home, and rural houses and property, prosecutors said. Tribby entered the plea today to one count of bank fraud in federal court in Alexandria, Va, U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement. She faces as much as 30 years in prison at her sentencing, scheduled for June 3.
Tribby had been an employee of Wachovia, bought by Wells Fargo & Co. in 2008, and its predecessors for more than 25 years, according to the statement. Her last job was a business relationship manager developing client accounts in and around Loudoun County, Va, prosecutors said.
From about December 2003 to January, Tribby sold some customers on a "wealth-management account product" that she said earned tax-free interest--a product the bank didn't offer--then transferred funds from their accounts into accounts she controlled, prosecutors charged.
Tribby created fake balance statements for the customers and made periodic interest payments, prosecutors said.
She used the money for purchases including a home in West Virginia, a hunting cabin built on about 200 acres of land in New York, a lake house in New York, about 100 acres of property in Nevada, a luxury motor home and a helicopter.
An internal investigation uncovered the fraud, and the bank is working to reimburse the affected customers, said Aimee Worlsey, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.
"We're pleased that this matter, which was an isolated case involving one former team member, has been resolved," Worsley said in an e-mail.