Mary Kay Newman, a former employee at First National Bank in Fort Smith, was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for stealing $559,000 from an elderly bank customer in 2011.
Newman, 45, will also serve two years of supervised release, pay a $2,500 fine and $9,260.23 in restitution for embezzling funds from Ruby Pharis, 89, according to a news release from the office of Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.
Elrdidge said the case represents greed at its worst.
“Not only did the defendant abuse her position of trust, but she also preyed upon one of the most vulnerable members of our community — an elderly widow — in a scheme devised for the sole purpose of benefiting herself,” Eldridge said in the news release.
According to court records, Newman worked at First National Bank in Fort Smith from 1989 until December 2011. Pharis became acquainted with Newman as a customer of the bank.
In September 2002, Pharis’s husband died, and she continued to regularly come in contact with Newman. In 2009, Pharis purchased two certificates of deposit at Chambers Bank in Fort Smith with a combined value of $530,189.90.
In January 2010, Pharis renewed those certificates, which at that time had a combined value of $548,719.47.
Later that year, Pharis required surgery and hospitalization, and Newman advised her it was necessary for her to sign a power of attorney to Newman so that her bills could be paid while she was incapacitated.
Pharis did not give Newman authority to make any other financial decisions, but Newman did anyway.
Beginning in January 2011, Newman structured several financial transactions without Pharis’s knowledge, converting the CDs into cashier’s checks and then personally using the money.
By December 2011, Pharis became concerned she was not receiving her account statements from First National Bank. After an examination of her accounts, the bank discovered the transactions made by Newman, and she was fired on December 29, 2011.