Ex-teller is given jail term for theft Woman stole $10,000 from bank account of elderly customer

February 23, 1996|By AMY L.MILLER | AMY L.MILLER,SUN STAFF

A former head teller at Union National Bank was sentenced to 18 months in jail yesterday for stealing $10,000 from an elderly woman's account in 1993. Shirley Gail Cutlip, 30, collapsed into sobs at the defense table yend allowed work release.

Cutlip -- who lives with her young son on Old Westminster Pike in Finksburg -- had expected to receive probation, a sentence recommended by parole officers who conducted her presentence investigation.

"I don't believe incarceration is warranted here," said Russell J. White, Cutlip's attorney, before her sentencing. "She has no criminal record of any kind, not even a traffic case.

"She's a mental wreck now, facing the stigma of being convicted a felony. It's hard to imagine the emotional suffering she's endured."

That suffering, however, doesn't make up for Cutlip taking advantage of an elderly customer and the trust of Union National officials, Judge Burns said.

"I do not consider this a normal, garden-variety theft," Judge Burns said. "The serious part of these crimes is the violation of the trust that was put in these employees. She took advantage of that."

Prosecutors had argued that unless Cutlip served jail time, the wrong message would be sent to the community.

"If you go to Sheetz and steal a candy bar, you get an 18-month jail sentence," said Assistant State's Attorney Jerry J. Joyce. "If she walks out of here with a suspended sentence, people will feel [Cutlip] got away with this. Not only was money stolen, but people's lives were hurt."

In December, Cutlip was convicted of preparing false bank documents June 10, 1993, and using them to steal $10,000 from the account of Carrie C. Rimbey, a bank customer now in her 80s.

Prosecutors said that Cutlip -- who was head teller at Union National Bank's 140 Village branch until two years ago -- stole the money from the drawer of a recently hired, part-time teller.

The teller, Rene Fracassi, then 19, was blamed for the theft until bank officials determined that the transaction -- which requires nine steps -- was too complicated for such an inexperienced employee to complete in the short time indicated on the teller tape.

Bank officials did not discover the error until Ms. Rimbey checked her balance at the end of the month and reported the loss.

Cutlip, who works as a bookkeeper for Rohrbaugh's Bus Service in Manchester, has consistently denied that she took the money.

The December trial was the second time a Carroll County jury considered charges against Cutlip. A similar trial in April resulted in an acquittal on charges of forgery, and a hung jury on the theft charges.

"We think that Judge Burns' sentence is totally appropriate for the reasons he so aptly stated," Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said yesterday. "We take seriously crimes by bank employees and those who prey upon the elderly and take advantage of them."

Mr. White declined to comment yesterday.

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