Hide your gold. Hide your Benjamins. Maybe Grandma’s old-school safe in the basement was never such a bad idea after all. Two Chase bank employees and two others have been indicted for allegedly stealing $400,000 from the bank accounts of fifteen senior citizens. At least eight of the account holders were dead, but money kept flowing to their accounts because of reporting errors to the Social Security Administration
“As alleged, these individuals preyed upon the elderly and deceased,” New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said in a statement. “Not only did they raid their victims’ savings, they also failed to conceal their deceitful tracks.”
The defendants used their position in banking to steal Social Security funds, according to Social Security Administration Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan. “[It’s] an offense against all taxpayers who contribute to Social Security and spend a lifetime working to earn those benefits,” he said.
Jonathan Francis, 27, and Dion Allison, 30, both worked as personal bankers at Chase’s Restoration Plaza branch at 1380 Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy. They are accused of using their authority to electronically access dormant accounts with high balances, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office. Co-defendants Kerry Phillips and Gregory Desrameaux were not employed by Chase, but according to Thompson’s office, conspired with Francis and Allison.
Francis and Allison allegedly issued ATM cards for the accounts, which they and others would regularly use to withdraw large amounts of money — between $200 and $2,000 — from several Chase ATMs.
In April 2013, for example, the defendants are accused of having made 42 withdrawals totaling $39,800 from four different accounts at four different ATMs in Brooklyn. Throughout the course of the investigation by New York City Police Detective Adrienne Jones of the Brooklyn DA’s squad, the defendants were said to have withdrawn a total of $298,000 on 355 different occasions.
They have also been accused of conspiring to steal money from Chase accounts by submitting fraudulent Durable Power of Attorney documents, falsely giving them control of the accounts.
The defendants were indicted on four counts: fourth-degree conspiracy, second- and third-degree grand larceny, and first-degree falsifying business records. Allison was arrested on December 28 and held on $25,000 bond or $15,000 cash. His next court date is set for February. According to Senior Assistant District attorney Adam Zion, when confronted by Chase investigators, Allison made a full written confession, admitting to the allegations and that he worked closely with Francis.
Desrameaux and Francis, whose next court date is also in February, were arraigned earlier in December. Francis’s bail was set at $25,000 or $15,000 cash, while Desrameaux was released without bail. Police are still searching for Phillips.
Each defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the first-degree offense.
“We have been working closely with the authorities and the Social Security Administration since notifying them about this incident. We will continue to do so to ensure that the funds are reimbursed to our customers or their estates or returned to the government as appropriate,” says Chase spokeswoman Lauren Ryan, who is no relation to the Social Security Administration agent.
“[These defendants] will all now be held accountable for their shameful scheme to defraud,” Thompson said in a statement.