Former West Seattle bank-branch manager sentenced to prison for embezzling $500,000+ from ‘vulnerable victims’

Four months after pleading guilty to two counts of an eight-count indictment, a former West Seattle bank manager has been sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison. Here’s the announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

The former manager of a JPM Chase bank branch in West Seattle was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 54 months in prison for embezzling more than half a million dollars from the accounts of elderly customers, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

Roberta Castillo, 43, acted as a trusted friend and financial helper to various elderly customers of first Washington Mutual and later Chase after WAMU was sold. These elderly clients trusted Castillo to assist them with their financial affairs. Instead, she stole their funds by manipulating the electronic records at the bank, committing identity theft with their personal information, and using innocent subordinates to make it difficult to track the disappearing funds. Chase has agreed to restore the funds to the customer accounts. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said Castillo had preyed on “vulnerable victims,” and asked to be updated that Chase had made the victims whole.

“This defendant stole from her elderly victims when they were most vulnerable – after the loss of a spouse, while battling illness or dealing with the challenges that sometimes come with age,” said U.S. Attorney Hayes. “In one instance, she stole more than $350,000 from the estate of a deceased customer. This defendant’s shameful behavior deserves substantial punishment.”

According to records filed in the case, Castillo began working for what was then Washington Mutual in the late 1990s. She started as a teller and worked her way up to being a branch manager in West Seattle. Along the way Castillo worked with many customers who, as they aged, came to rely on her for their financial services. With access to their accounts, Castillo drained resources from at least three different sets of clients. Castillo was embezzling as much as $20,000 per month. She drained $364,000 from an overlooked CD in the account of a deceased client; she made 37 unauthorized transfers totaling more than $140,000 from the accounts of an elderly brother and sister; and she committed identity theft against another client opening and using a credit card in his name and getting cash from his line of credit. Castillo used the money to pay her bank loans, routine expenses such as manicures and gas, hotel rooms, airplane tickets, a cruise, and for bail money for a boyfriend in trouble with the law. In the wake of the thefts some of the victims have struggled to pay bills or make necessary home repairs.

In addition to the prison sentence, Castillo will serve five years on supervised release and is ordered to pay restitution of more than $500,000 to Chase.

The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Susan Roe.

After receiving the announcement, we asked which branch Castillo had managed in West Seattle. According to the sentencing-memo document in the case (which contains many more details of her crimes), Castillo managed two Chase branches in grocery stores. Other documents say her crimes happened between 2011 and 2014.

21 Replies to "Former West Seattle bank-branch manager sentenced to prison for embezzling $500,000+ from 'vulnerable victims'"

  • Mark July 25, 2017 (3:46 pm)

    This person is getting what he deserves prison time and the requirement to pay restitution.

    The arsonist also needs to be imprisoned and pay restitution for societal cost of shutting down a major highway.

    • A July 25, 2017 (7:17 pm)

      He is a she Marky Mark 

  • sn6uV July 25, 2017 (9:58 pm)

    I’m not seeing a Chase location in any grocery store other than Thriftway. What’s the other location?

    It really makes me angry, that Chase has not chosen to disclose this information to their customers prior to this announcement by the US Attorney. Time to switch to BECU.

    • WSB July 25, 2017 (10:16 pm)

      I haven’t yet found what the reference is to – thought maybe there had been one in another store during the time frame of the crimes 2011-2014 which had since closed? When I get some time very late tonight I’m going to search the federal court-docs system for other documents in the case, just out of curiosity. No addresses were listed anywhere.

      • Erithsn July 25, 2017 (11:50 pm)

        Used to be on in QFC on 42nd.(sorry if Confusing, tired.)

        • Erithan July 26, 2017 (12:20 pm)

          Er no wait that was just an atm. Sorry!

  • CD July 25, 2017 (10:11 pm)

    Regardless, she should be put away for a lot longer.

  • newnative July 26, 2017 (9:28 am)

    I don’t recall a branch in QFC in the Junction. I think the addresses and her photo should be displayed, there might be more victims? 

    • WSB July 26, 2017 (10:09 am)

      Don’t have a photo and the few circumstances under which they’re available (past prison term, sex-offender registration) are not applicable. If I do find a document with the actual branch addresses, I’ll add them here – TR

      • newnative July 26, 2017 (11:29 am)

        Not faulting you for the  lack of photo. I noticed none of the stories online had a photo of her and the story broke several days ago. It’s odd because she’s been charged and convicted. 

        • WSB July 26, 2017 (12:02 pm)

          It didn’t break several days ago. The sentencing was yesterday morning and we published the news release a few hours later, after asking some followup questions. No media outlet actually went to court so far as I can tell – it all appears to have been from the same news release – and even if they did, federal court still allows very little photography (used to be none, so in the olden days – my TV days – if it was a federal-court case, we had to send a sketch artist). – TR

  • Vanessa July 26, 2017 (9:46 am)

    What a disgusting piece of  **** of a human being. I hope she rots in prison. 

    Taking advantage of the elderly or ANYONE makes my blood boil. 

  • Swede. July 26, 2017 (10:06 am)

    Similar story to what happend at Huling Bros. 

    If she only stolen more money, like her bosses at WAMU, she would walked away. 

    Glad to se she doesnt! POS!

  • Ari Yoder July 26, 2017 (10:21 am)

    Yes, a photo is what I want to see.  In my limited search, I didn’t find one.

  • Keith July 26, 2017 (10:38 am)

    She worked (at least part of the time) at the California & Oregon branch. 

    • WSB July 26, 2017 (11:01 am)

      Thanks. So far the only thing I can find in other fed documents viewed via the PACER system is a notation that she “spent her entire career at West Seattle branches.” This isn’t the kind of crime like those we often follow via county/state documents with specific locations where it happened … the anecdotal descriptions of what happened with the victims has more to do with how the money was embezzled, the fact that she even went to some victims’ homes (the addresses of which are not listed, either, not that we would publish them, but for context’s sake), etc. – TR

  • BJG July 26, 2017 (12:36 pm)

    Odd that I first saw this news item on KHQ website in Spokane while looking at real estate updates. Hmm. Checked our local outlets and found nothing about the case for hours. How do these things get picked up? And yay for little Spokane news.

  • Jason July 26, 2017 (4:41 pm)

     I used to work with Berta over a decade ago.  She was at the Morgan Junction and West Seattle branches as an assistant manager then managed the Morgan Junction branch in Thriftway.  I always thought she was a little too eager in the hustle and I saw worse people during the buildup to the mortgage crisis but I wouldn’t have expected something like this. 

    I haven’t seen her in many years but this is a despicable crime and she deserves whatever punishment comes her way.

  • CS July 27, 2017 (5:32 pm)

    I briefly worked with her when she was manager at the White Center branch before she was demoted/transitioned to a mortgage banker (I don’t know which is the actual case).  She was a teller and assistant at the Oregon/California branch for several years prior to Chase taking over. She was never the manager at the Junction or Admiral branches.

    I can’t comment on her behavior since I barely knew her and only worked with her for a couple of months.

  • Double Dub Resident July 27, 2017 (8:03 pm)

    The judge said she deserved a substantial sentence and she got 4 1/2 years? 

    People who commit identity theft and embezzlement need to be sentenced longer. This type of crime can ruin a person’s life

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