Bank employee gets prison for embezzling


POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A former Bank of Hawaii employee will spend more than four years in federal prison for stealing more than $146,000 over a two-year period from the trust account of a customer in failing health.

Lianne Gonzaga will also have to repay twice the amount of money she stole.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor sentenced Gonzaga yesterday to 51 months behind bars for embezzlement, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized use of an automated teller machine card.

Gillmor also ordered Gonzaga to pay Bank of Hawaii restitution for covering the loss and ordered her to forfeit $146,655 as punishment. Gillmor said the sentence is meant as a deterrent, not just to discourage Gonzaga from committing the same crime, but also to discourage others in similar positions of trust.

Federal prosecutor Rachel Moriyama said Gonzaga stole from the trust account of a customer identified in court documents by his initials R.M.E. from March 2006 to April 2008.

Gonzaga transferred $73,000 from the trust account to a checking account in her name and cashed three checks totaling $8,600, she said.

And from June 2006 to April 2008, Moriyama said, Gonzaga used an ATM card 377 times to withdraw $138,055, including 12 times after the customer died.

Moriyama said instead of sending the bank statements to the man's family, Gonzaga shredded them.

After the customer died, Bank of Hawaii conducted an investigation and discovered the theft.

Gonzaga worked at Bank of Hawaii from July 1996 to last July, a bank official said.

She is married with two children, her lawyer said in court yesterday.