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Case Number: 1:18-cr-00272-RP
Judge: Robert Pitman
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (Travis Coounty)
Plaintiff's Attorney: Daniel M. Castillo, Michael C. Galdo, Neeraj Kumar Gupta and Robert Almonte
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Description: Austin, TX - Former Austin Bank Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing over One Million Dollars from Customer
A federal judge sentenced 40–year-old former Austin Capital One bank employee Paola Gallego of Round Rock, TX, to five years in federal prison for stealing over $1 million from a bank customer.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ordered Gallego to pay a monetary judgment forfeiture in the amount of $1.2 Million; pay $1,403,979.13 in restitution to Capital One Bank (which had reimbursed the victims for their losses); and, be placed on supervised release for a period of four years after completing her prison term. Gallego remains on a $1 million bond pending Bureau of Prisons notification as to when and where to report to begin her prison sentence.
On May 9, 2019, Gallego pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and agreed to liquidate and remit certain assets and properties to be applied towards restitution.
Court records and testimony show that beginning in April 2014, Gallego began servicing the Capital One accounts of an elderly Austin couple. Gallego told one of her victims that if the spouse should die, another family member could take control of the money in their bank account—approximately $4.4 million. In September 2016, the victim took $400,000 and opened up an account at Wells Fargo Bank with Gallego’s assistance. Over the next two weeks, Gallego spent $94,779.13 on personal and family expenditures including a $50,000 wire transfer to Bancolombia on September 28, 2016, and a $20,586.81 online credit card payment to Chase Bank to an account in the name of her mother. Wells Fargo closed that account on suspicions of elder abuse.
Gallego and her victim subsequently opened another joint checking account, this time at J.P. Morgan Chase (Chase Bank). Gallego told a Chase Bank employee that she was her victim’s caretaker and a stay-at-home mother, which was false. Gallego then opened up a separate individual bank account at Chase Bank. Between October 14, 2016 and April 20, 2017, Gallego’s victim withdrew $1.2 million from the joint Capital One account via cashier’s checks with the understanding that Gallego would deposit those funds into their joint account at Chase Bank for investment purposes. Instead, Gallego deposited those checks into her own Chase Bank account and used the money for personal expenses, including purchasing a Range Rover Sport HSE, shopping, a Hawaiian vacation, making home improvements including a pool, making mortgage payments, paying off family member’s credit card balances, and purchasing a VW Passat for her parents.
“Stealing money by defrauding the elderly is reprehensible. We will continue to smoke out wrongdoers in our community who take advantage of the most vulnerable citizens,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.
“This is a clear cut case of an individual taking full advantage of vulnerable victims for financial gain,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Combs. “We will continue our vigorous pursuit of those who commit such unscrupulous actions with little or no regard for their victims.”
“The FDIC OIG, along with its law enforcement partners, is dedicated to pursuing those who commit schemes to defraud the nation’s federally insured financial institutions and its customers,” stated FDIC OIG Special Agent in Charge Younger.
Agents with the FBI, including an FBI Task Force officer from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the FDIC OIG investigated this case.
Bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1344