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Bank Official Admits Embezzling $50,000

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HAMMOND, Ind., Ill. (STMW) - The vice president of a local bank embezzled more than $50,000 by taking out loans on customers’ accounts and increasing her own mortgage, according to court records.

Sherlynn Groat, 56, of Hammond, agreed to plead guilty the same day she was charged in the U.S. District Court in Hammond with one count each embezzling money from the bank and entering in false information.

According to her plea agreement, Groat has worked at Liberty Savings Bank, a local company that has branches in Whiting and Schererville, since 1981. She admits in the agreement that from March 2008 to April 2010, she used the loans to take in more than $50,000 from the bank.

At first she used her position to increase her own mortgage, the agreements says, essentially using it as a line of credit for $16,500, which the bank does not allow. She went further by increasing the loan of a bank customer, without that customer’s knowledge, and kept the money for herself. Groat ended up creating a new loan for a bank customer, again taking the money for herself.

Groat says in the agreement that she tried to make payments on that loan but fell behind. That led to her creating a second loan to pay the first one off, according to the agreement. Groat says in the agreement that she hid paperwork of the loan from the customer.

She also admits to stealing checks a customer had sent in to make payments on the customer’s loan and used the money for herself.

According to court records, Groat has paid back all the money she took.

Neither her attorney nor a representative with Liberty Savings Bank could be reached for comment.

According to the agreement, Groat could face up to 30 years on each count, although U.S. attorneys will recommend that she receive the minimum of her sentencing guideline. It isn’t known what that would be. Also part of the plea deal is an agreement that Groat will sign an Order of Prohibition with the Office of Thrift Supervision, which would essentially ban her from working in the banking and insurance fields. It isn’t clear how long that ban would last.

An initial appearance for Groat has not been set yet, according to court records.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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