Bank teller hijacked from Alabama vault to gamble, federal government says

A 41-year-old woman accused of hijacking a chain of former employers in Alabama has been sentenced to jail.

Prosecutors said Tiffany Culliver Franklin embezzled $ 202,000 from a bank where she worked as a vault teller and, after being fired, became an accountant at a college where she is accused of stealing $ 13,000, y including teacher funds. Both times the money would have been used to gamble in casinos.

A federal judge sentenced Franklin to three years and one month in prison and ordered him to pay $ 216,416 in restitution, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama said in a press release on Tuesday, December 7. .

Franklin will also be banned from working in the financial services industry after his release.

A jury found Franklin guilty on six counts of embezzlement, bank fraud and wire fraud after a two-day trial in June. Court documents show she plans to appeal the verdict.

Public defenders appointed to represent Franklin did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Friday, December 10.

According to prosecutors and federal court documents, the alleged fraud dates back to October 2014, when Franklin worked at a Wells Fargo branch in Montgomery, Alabama. Prosecutors said she started working at the bank in January 2012.

Between October and December 2014, Franklin was accused of using her Wells Fargo user ID to obtain a debit card on behalf of a customer. Prosecutors said the card was “tied to an elderly client’s account,” which Franklin allegedly used to deposit worthless checks from his own bank account.

Before the checks cleared, the government said, Franklin went to ATMs and withdrew the money. She managed to steal at least $ 550 from Wells Fargo, according to an indictment.

Prosecutors said Franklin was later hired as a safe deposit box cashier at a BB&T branch in Montgomery, where she is accused of embezzling $ 202,000 over a two-year period.

Franklin was the only employee with access to the safe, according to court documents.

The alleged embezzlement was revealed when an operations manager stopped by the branch on July 18, 2017. According to court documents, the operations manager and local branch managers counted the money inside. from the safe, compared it to Franklin’s balance sheet, and found that $ 202,000 was missing. .

When Franklin arrived at work later that day, prosecutors said she had been met by an internal company investigator. They entered a glass room to speak, and Franklin signed a two-page handwritten confession.

On the first page of the confession, Franklin wrote that the safe was somehow insufficient and that she was trying to replace the money.

“I’m so sorry and I know it wouldn’t make a difference, but I’m better than that,” she said in the confession. “I will replace all funds as quickly as possible.”

On the second page, Franklin said she “tried different options” for getting the money back, including buying a business, giving money to a drug dealer, and taking it to casinos.

BB&T fired Franklin and the investigator’s findings were passed on to law enforcement, prosecutors said. Meanwhile, Franklin got a job as an accountant at Goodwyn Middle School in Montgomery, Alabama, starting in September 2017.

The government said Franklin embezzled a total of $ 13,216 from the school and attempted to cover his tracks with worthless checks. Some of the money was allegedly taken from sporting events and teachers. Franklin was also given a Walmart credit card through the school, which she is accused of using to purchase personal items and gift cards worth $ 850.

A grand jury indicted Franklin in February 2020 and issued two replacement indictments in the months that followed, court documents show.

Hayley Fowler is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and covers the latest real-time news in North and South Carolina. She holds a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining The Observer in 2019.