Former bank manager pleads guilty to elder theft

August 5, 2010 12:54:20 PM PDT
A former manager of a Wells Fargo Bank branch in San Jose pleaded guilty Friday to charges of bilking several elderly customers and agreed to a term of six years in prison.

John Tran, 37, of San Jose, is suspected of stealing $1 million from elderly bank customers and others in about a year's span of fraud and theft, but police have not been able to prove that total, San Jose police Detective Leonard Lim said.

Tran was charged with the theft of about $553,000 from an elder, as well as grand theft and forgery, according to the district attorney's office.

Tran was a manager at the Wells Fargo Bank on Lincoln Avenue in San Jose from March 2008 to February 2009. He was arrested in March of this year.

He bilked money from elderly customers of the bank and others whom he met at senior centers in the area, Lim said.

"He also made his stomping grounds adult assisted living centers," Lim said.

Some of the victims were tricked into investing in CDs through a convoluted and sophisticated money laundering scheme. Instead of being deposited into CDs, Tran routed the money to himself, authorities said.

In other cases, Tran forged signatures, including those of deceased customers, and drained bank accounts, police said.

The bank has reimbursed all the victims and Tran has agreed to pay $553,000 in restitution to the bank, prosecuting attorney Cherie Bourlard said.

Half of the elderly victims have since died, including one woman who was bilked out of more than $350,000 and died four days after Lim interviewed her in the hospital, Lim said.

Tran's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5.

Anyone with information about the case, or who may have been a victim, is asked to call Detective Lim at (408) 277-4521.


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