Crime

Couple arrested for embezzling, stealing more than $600,000 from Fresno bank

A couple was arrested Wednesday for allegedly running an embezzlement scheme that defrauded a Bank of America in Fresno of more than $600,000, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.

Sylvia Ochoa, 33, of Orange Cove, was the branch manager at the Bank of America on East Tulare Street.

Court documents say that between March 2013 and October 2013, Ochoa and Shanne Leavell, 23, also of Orange Cove, conspired to defraud the bank. Ochoa prevented other bank employees from counting the cash in the vault, contrary to the bank’s policy.

Ochoa entered the vault after hours and took money for personal use, court document say. Ochoa also made fraudulent credits and transfers into accounts that she controlled at the bank – including two accounts she opened in the name of her boyfriend, Leavell.

Ochoa and Leavell spent the money on a truck, gambling at casinos and buying expensive handbags.

A federal grand jury returned the six-count indictment against Ochoa and Leavell on Aug. 27. Ochoa is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement by a bank manager. Leavell is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.

If convicted, Ochoa and Leavell could face a 30-year prison sentence and a $1 million fine.

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