U.S. v. Wasilweski – Appellate Court Affirms Former Bank Manager’s Sentencing Enhancement

White collar crimes are becoming more common in this age of exponentially growing digital technology. Simply put: It’s become easier to carry them out.tieingthenecktie.jpg

Avoiding a conviction, however, is a different story. Law enforcement and prosecutors have become more sophisticated as well, and Broward County criminal defense attorneys know that successful representation in these cases requires a highly-skilled team of knowledgeable legal professionals.

Further, getting it right the first time around is of the utmost importance, because as the case of U.S. v. Wasilweski shows, second chances are hard to come by.

This was a federal case out of Illinois that was decided by the appellate court late last month. It involves a former assistant vice president/assistant manager at a Chase Bank branch in a Chicago suburb. This was an individual who was responsible for overseeing the everyday operations at the bank. Basically, he assigned teller safes and drawers, maintained codes for those safes and drawers and performed audits on those safes and drawers, as well as on cash dispensers. He had a key to the front door and the code to deactivate the alarm on the vault. He closed the bank every night, and he had half of a code that, when combined with one held by another employee, could open the teller cash dispensers.

One afternoon late last summer, the defendant reportedly entered the employee break room, and shut off the bank’s power for a moment, before turning it right back on again. He did the same thing about 1.5 hours later, only he didn’t turn the power back on. Later that evening, as he closed the bank, he also reportedly unplugged the bank’s master power supply boxes. He contacted the corporate office to remotely reset the alarm, but there was still no power at the facility throughout that evening – meaning there was no video surveillance inside the bank during that time.

At 2 a.m., he had returned to the bank. His PIN number was used to deactivate the vault alarm, which also protected the teller cash drawers. At that time, prosecutors say, he was able to heist $41,000 in cash. He then fled, and the next morning boarded a flight to the Dominican Republic.

There, customs officials searched his bag and found nearly $40,000 in U.S. currency. He was arrested, deported to Puerto Rico and then detained by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations. We was returned to Chicago, where he was federally charged with violation of 18 U.S.C. 656, embezzlement. He pleaded guilty last year, and was given six months of imprisonment, followed by three years of probation.

He might not have served anytime at all, but for a sentencing enhancement he received for abuse of trust. It was upon this basis that the prison sentence was challenged. The appellate court found that while such an enhancement would not apply for an ordinary teller or employee, the bank had trusted him with access to large sums of money and he was specifically responsible for keeping that money safe. As such, the appellate court ruled that the enhancement should stand.

There are all kinds of sentencing enhancements that Florida defendants can receive, meaning you will get more time behind bars than you otherwise would. Some of these enhancements include:

–Crimes committed by gang members or for the benefit of a gang;
–Crimes committed while you are on parole or probation;
–Crimes committed by a habitual offender;
–Crimes that resulted in severe injury to a victim.

If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.

Additional Resources:
U.S. v. Wasilewski, Dec. 19, 2012, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
More Blog Entries:
U.S. v. Murray, et al – Courts Can’t Re-Open Case For Additional Punishments, Dec. 5, 2012, Broward County Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

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