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.