Old Town woman gets 15 months for embezzling $30K from bank customers

Posted March 17, 2011, at 7:07 p.m.
Last modified March 18, 2011, at 1:34 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A former customer service representative for Bangor Savings Bank in Bangor who embezzled more than $30,000 from bank customers’ accounts was sentenced to 15 months in prison Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court.

Karen L. Lebreton, 44, of Old Town was ordered to make restitution for the full amount ($35,190) she diverted from accounts between Dec. 15, 2008, and Nov. 6, 2009; pay a $1,000 fine, serve the 15-month prison term to begin no later than May 6; and be under supervised release for five years after that.

“I would just like to reiterate my remorse for my actions and I know that what I did was wrong,” a somber Lebreton told U.S. District Judge John Woodcock as 23 courtroom observers looked on.

Lebreton bowed her head and was subdued while Woodcock announced his sentence, but two family members seated behind her cried.

“She understands, in my opinion, what she did was wrong and is very and truly remorseful, and she has gone out of her way to tell everyone what she did was wrong,” Charles W. Woodson II, Lebreton’s attorney, said after the sentencing. “We understand the judge ruling the way he did.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moore, who prosecuted the case, was satisfied with the sentence.

“I believe Judge Woodcock rendered a very fair sentence and took into account a very great number of factors while also taking into account several mitigating factors,” Moore said after the hearing. “The sentence was the lowest she could have received within the advisory sentencing guideline range, and I think the fact she is not a career criminal and not a threat to reoffend was one of the most significant factors.”

Lebreton faced a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine ranging from $4,000 to $1 million.

Woodcock mentioned several factors he weighed in his sentencing decision They included an aberration in an otherwise good record; a serious breach of trust with Lebreton’s employer and the bank’s customers; the length of time during which the crime was carried out; the fact that she didn’t stop her embezzling on her own accord; the total amount of money stolen; the fact it was a calculated rather than spur-of-the-moment crime; the ages of the victims — which ranged from mid-70s to 92, as well as the fact Lebreton specifically targeted them — her contrition; and the fact she has begun repayment of the stolen funds with $10,000 on Wednesday.

“You strike me as a very unlikely federal felon, and are apparently someone your parish minister trusts even now,” Woodcock told Lebreton after the Rev. Wilfred Labbe of the Parish of Resurrection Church in Old Town testified on her behalf.

Lebreton worked for Bangor Savings Bank from August 1986 until her termination in November 2009. As a customer service representative, she had access to certain bank customers’ funds through an online program.

The divorced mother of two teens overrode the savings accounts of seven customers over a 15-month period, and requested tellers to withdraw funds in the form of cashier’s or treasurer’s checks and then deposited those checks into her personal account at Penobscot County Federal Credit Union.

Lebreton cited her divorce, mounting debt and financial problems, anxiety and depression for her decision to misappropriate customers’ funds.

“Even though she used no force, Miss Lebreton probably stole more money over a number of years than any armed robber has from Bangor Savings Bank,” Moore said at the sentencing hearing.

Most of the money Lebreton took was from one customer, a 92-year-old woman who submitted a statement to the court for the record.

Woodcock also pointed out that Lebreton cast fellow employees under a spotlight of suspicion with her actions as an FBI investigation resulted from a customer complaint.

Lebreton requested she be allowed to self-report to begin her prison sentence with the understanding that she was responsible for getting herself to whatever prison she was assigned, even if it was in California. Judge Woodcock granted that request and ordered her to report not later than 2 p.m. Friday, May. 6.

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