White collar crime in Alabama can range from petty theft to embezzlement toInternet fraud. Hard economic times can cause people to attempt crimes like these, or they can become embroiled in a difficult situation with seemingly no way out. As a Birmingham criminal defense lawyer, I know that many people accused of a particular crime feel they are not guilty. I also know that some people who may have committed a criminal act did so under heavy emotional or financial pressure.
While what happened may seem clear cut, there are usually extenuating circumstances that as defense attorneys we must explain to a jury so they can make an informed decision on the guilt or innocence of a defendant. A recent news article pointed out one kind of crime that may be more common than people imagine. A former SouthBank employee has reportedly been indicted for allegedly stealing more than a half-million dollars from that financial institution.
The defendant, a 48-year-old Huntsville woman, was recently indicted on charges she stole more than $500,000 over a five-year period while she was employed by SouthBank. Keleste Sherrill is a former assistant manager at the bank's Jefferson Street branch. She was charged with bank fraud after having allegedly stolen money from the bank's vault and ATM machines between January 2004 and August 2009. Bank management estimates the total amount at $533,000.
According to reports, SouthBank President Art Freeman said bank officials discovered an irregularity on a Friday afternoon last August. After completing an internal investigation the following Monday, bank officials confronted Sherrill as she arrived at work and described what they had found. Freeman said the woman was cooperative.
The Huntsville prosecutor's office alleges that Sherrill used ATM ledgers and avoided bank cameras as a part of the scheme, according to the indictment. This initial indictment is just the first phase in the process of criminal prosecution. If convicted, the woman could be looking at up to 30 years in prison and may even have to pay $1 million in fines.
Former SouthBank employee indicted in $500K Huntsville bank theft, AL.com, September 30, 2009