Ex-teller admits stealing $400,000 at Carroll bank


July 08, 2008

A former Westminster bank teller pleaded guilty yesterday to embezzling between $400,000 and $1 million from her bank over nine years and using the money to buy a Hummer, a Corvette and snowmobiles, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney's office.

Karen L. Baer, 46, admitted committing bank fraud and faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $1 million fine, federal prosecutors said. She is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Prosecutors said Baer worked as a teller from 1998 to Oct. 25 last year, when she was fired. During her employment, the bank at the Village Shopping Center in Westminster changed hands three times: First, it was Westminster Union Bank, then Mercantile Bank and most recently PNC Bank.

Prosecutors said auditors for PNC discovered the missing money, sometimes taken in monthly $10,000 cash increments from a teller drawer and written off with false entries in log books. Prosecutors said Baer created hundreds of fake debit and credit tickets, "making her initial theft difficult to detect."

Federal prosecutors said the amount stolen was a little more than $1 million, while Baer admitted in her plea agreement to stealing $400,000. Prosecutors said U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis will determine the amount stolen at sentencing.

Baer told prosecutors that she used the money for living expenses, vacations and college tuition for her children.

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