Seattle – A former financial services representative at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to one year and a day in prison for bank fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Lee Michael Griffin, 31, previously of Mount Vernon, Washington, stole more than $129,000 from an elderly bank customer by making unauthorized transfers from the woman’s account to his own. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed three years of supervised release to follow the prison term.
According to records filed in the case, Griffin had worked at the credit union for almost two years when he made his first illegal transfer from the elderly victim’s bank account to a lender to pay off his $7,000 loan. Over the next three years, even after he had left the employ of the credit union, he made 65 additional transfers to do things such as pay his mortgage, pay for a new car and other personal expenses. The victim’s account settings had been changed to stop the mailing of paper statements, and instead just sent electronic statements. However, the victim did not have computer access. The theft was discovered when the victim was hospitalized, and a nephew began assisting with her finances. He discovered the thefts from the account and worked at length with the credit union to ensure the funds were restored.
Noting that Griffin and his wife had declared bankruptcy in 2013, Assistant United States Attorney James Oesterle wrote to the court, “Having taken advantage of the opportunity to get his financial affairs in order and make the most of the fresh start offered by the bankruptcy code, he chose another path. He turned to another source of loan forgiveness, stealing from a seemingly inactive bank account holding thousands of dollars. Mr. Griffin’s conscious choice reflects a character trait no different from a defendant who brazenly steals property only to return time and again emboldened by the fact that they were not caught. The criminal conduct becomes habitual, unburdened by any moral clarity. It reflects an abject failure to distinguish right from wrong and recognize and appreciate the harm it inflicts on others.
Griffin, who now lives in Gilbert, Arizona, paid full restitution to the credit union of $129,194.31 at the sentencing hearing.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James Oesterle.