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Seattle Could Sue Bank Of America For Alleged Role In Embezzlement Case

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A million-dollar embezzlement case in Seattle could land Bank of America in hot water.

Joseph Phan, a former Seattle Public Utilities employee, is being charged with 70 counts of theft for allegedly taking checks made out to the city -- worth nearly $1.1 million -- and instead depositing them in his own account, according to KIRO FM, a Seattle news broadcaster.

And Phan's not the only one facing legal trouble. Dan Satterberg, the county prosecutor with jurisdiction over Seattle, told KIRO FM that the city might be able to bring civil action against Bank of America, where Phan was depositing his checks. Satterberg told KIRO FM that since the city doesn't do business with Bank of America, it was "surprising" that BofA allowed Phan to do what he did.

Some Bank of America critics might not find it so surprising though. The bank, which reported a $2 billion profit in January, has come under fire in the past for playing similar roles in other embezzlement cases.

Last year, the Maine Trial Lawyers Association sued Bank of America for allowing Bettysue Higgins, a former member of the association, to set up an online banking account in which she allegedly deposited some $166,000 in embezzled funds. BofA paid an undisclosed sum to settle that case, according to the Kennebec Journal.

Also in 2011, a Bank of America employee was implicated in a multimillion-dollar embezzlement case involving Davis-Lynch LLC, a Texas manufacturing company.

A group of Davis-Lynch employees were accused of diverting more than $13 million from that company into accounts at Bank of America. Lucy Delgado, a BofA worker, was allegedly complicit in the operation, according to KHOU-TV, a Houston-area news resource.

And at least three other Bank of America employees in the past year have been accused or convicted of directly embezzling funds from accounts at BofA.

The bank, which recently lost its title as largest in the nation, has also taken heat for other checking-related issues. Last Summer it was reported that BofA had given two years worth of Social Security checks to the wrong person.

A Bank of America spokesperson told KIRO FM that the bank is cooperating with investigators in the Joseph Phan case.

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