A federal appeals court this week affirmed a lower court’s conviction of a former ATM specialist at Pacific Marine Credit Union at Camp Pendleton who walked out of work one day in 2002 with a tissue box-sized brick of 1,000 $100 bills stuffed into a backpack.
In affirming the lower-court ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Erin Lovelette’s claims that there was insufficient evidence to prove her guilt. “Lovellette’s arguments fail, as there was sufficient evidence for a rational jury to find each of the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” ruled the appellate court.
Lovelette left her job at the San Diego credit union and eventually was arrested in 2009, eight years later, in Iowa where she was working at a local bank. Lovelette was tracked down after she tried to structure deposits for the stolen $100,000 by depositing less than $10,000 dozens of times in several bank accounts.
Lovelette is serving the final six months of an 18-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.
Lovelette had been given two weeks notice for poor work performance on May 2, 2002, when she told two other credit-union employees she had lost her keys to the cash bin located inside the vault, according to court records. She borrowed keys from one of her co-workers. During the day she contacted her husband, an active-duty Marine at Camp Pendleton, and told him she needed his backpack at work. When the cash vault was closed that day, one of the other workers discovered the cash missing.
The employees agreed that the missing $100,000 consisted of a “brick” of $100 bills, wrapped in plastic, about the size of a tissue box.
Lovelette refused to cooperate with investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, but a subsequent investigation by the Internal Revenue Service found that she began making cash deposits of thousands of dollars, but less than $10,000 each time, in accounts at Washington Mutual and Downey Savings and Loan, ranging from $100 to $9,100. All of the deposits took place in the days after the cash was discovered missing, investigators said.
The IRS traced a total of $64,660 in suspicious deposits to her.
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