Ex-Bank Worker Accused of Embezzling $5M
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ The former assistant to a bank executive was charged Wednesday with embezzling more than $5 million from her former boss and spending it on houses, trips around the world, art, jewelry and a Range Rover.
Federal agents arrested Darlene Gentry at her job in Las Vegas on a criminal complaint, which accuses her of siphoning the money over a period of at least six years, armed with the authority her boss had given her to handle his personal affairs.
Gentry had been sued in 2001 by T. Joseph Semrod, who was then chairman of Fleet New Jersey, the state’s largest bank and part of Fleet Boston.
She left the bank that year, after spending 18 years working for Semrod and the bank’s predecessor institutions, which included Summit Bancorp and United Jersey Bank.
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey will seek to have her return to face the charges here.
A public defender representing her did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Semrod retired in February. His lawyer in the lawsuit did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Fleet New Jersey spokesman Steve Lubetkin said he could not comment on the circumstances of her departure because it was a personnel matter.
Gentry is charged with two counts, mail fraud and tax evasion, which each carry up to five years in prison and fines of $250,000 on the fraud charge, and $100,000 on the tax charge.
The banker gave Gentry power of attorney over personal accounts and authorized her to sign checks to pay personal expenses, according to the complaint, which does not name the banker.
She used several methods to take his money, including writing more than $900,000 worth of checks to cash on his account, and giving some of the cash to him, as requested. However, she kept most of the cash for her own use, the complaint said.
She also wrote checks on the banker’s account payable to Summit or United Jersey banks, negotiated them at the bank, and then obtained bank treasurer’s checks payable to a third person for the same amount. She used those checks to pay her credit card bills and other personal expenses, the complaint said.
The banker’s money funded a vacation she and eight others took in September and October 2000 to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania, where the land portion cost $182,879, the complaint said.
It also said she and others took trips to Brazil, China, Japan and Walt Disney World in Florida.
Gentry bought a 2000 Range Rover with $77,000 of the banker’s money, and spent more than $285,000 from 1997-2000 on home furnishings and design work from a Princeton company.
She failed to declare the stolen money on federal tax returns from 1996 to 2001, the complaint said.
On the Net: U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark: