A former Wachovia Bank manager in Virginia who admitted stealing $14.1 million from bank clients through a fake wealth-management scheme was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday.
Linda Speaks Tribby, 42, who pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in March, was sentenced in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Tribby used the funds to buy a helicopter, a luxury motor home, rural houses and property, and exotic animals, including two zebras, prosecutors said.
Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office, made the announcement Friday after the sentencing by U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady.
In addition to her prison sentence, Tribby was ordered to pay $14,169,878 in restitution, forfeit property, funds held in bank accounts and the helicopter, and to serve four years of supervised probation upon her release.
"Linda Tribby's stunning greed and extravagant lifestyle drove her to steal more than $14 million," MacBride said in a prepared statement.
Tribby had worked for Wachovia -- bought by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank in 2008 -- for more than 25 years, according to prosecutors. Her last job was as a business-relationship manager developing client accounts in Loudoun County, Va., prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, from roughly December 2003 to January 2011, Tribby sold to some bank customers something she described as a "wealth-management account product" on which customers did not have to pay federal taxes on the account's earnings. In reality, Wachovia offered no such account.
Prosecutors charged that Tribby then transferred funds from clients' accounts into accounts that she controlled. She then created fake balance statements for the customers and made periodic interest payments.
Prosecutors said Tribby, of Lovettsville, Va., used the customers' stolen money for a multitude of lavish personal purchases including a home in West Virginia, a hunting cabin and 200 acres of land in New York, 100 acres of property in Nevada, a luxury motor home and a Bell helicopter.
Wells Fargo Bank officials uncovered the fraud during an internal investigation. Wells Fargo spokeswoman Aimee Worlsey said the bank has already reimbursed those defrauded customers.
Tribby was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Jan. 23 after returning from a weeklong trip to Las Vegas and Phoenix with her boyfriend, according to a motion filed by prosecutors in the case. Tribby had more than $30,000 in cash in a tote bag when she was arrested and was carrying handwritten notes in her purse addressed to her boyfriend, her husband from whom she is separated, her daughter and her parents, prosecutors said.
The government was able to locate about $5.5 million in bank accounts controlled by Tribby, although more than $8 million remains missing, the motion said.
- Jim McConville