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Huge embezzlement investigated at Fresno bank

Friday, December 13, 2013

More than $800,000 is missing from a Fresno bank and the branch manager has disappeared.

The FBI is now investigating the case and they're not commenting on it, but Action News uncovered a search warrant. It shows the money disappeared in the month after the assistant manager went on maternity leave and the manager was suddenly in control of the vault.

Security guards stationed at this southeast Fresno Bank of America branch keep an eye out for trouble outside, but police are discovering big problems on the inside .A search warrant filed by Fresno police shows massive amounts of cash missing from the bank's vault and from individual tellers' carts.

Employees pointed the finger at the manager Sylvia Ochoa. The warrant reveals she was frequently in the bank after hours and video showed her exiting the vault while it was closed.

Defense attorney Ralph Torres says Ochoa may be facing serious trouble.

"We're talking about a lot of cash and I would expect because of the cash, you're looking at the federal government getting involved," he said.

Police served the warrant at the house Ochoa rented in northwest Fresno -- seizing weapons and high-end electronics, as well as some cash. But Ochoa wasn't there, and the house is now empty.

Neighbors say she packed up and left that same month. In the warrant, police said Ochoa made some admissions that wrongdoing had occurred, but that was before she disappeared.

Torres says her departure may create even bigger problems.

"If you leave knowing that you're being investigated, they could use that against you in a court of law, absolutely," he said.

A Bank of America spokeswoman told Action News she couldn't discuss many details of the incident, but told us "Bank of America holds its employees to the highest standards of integrity, so this situation is quite disheartening."

She also told us no customers' accounts were impacted by the theft, and confirmed the suspect is no longer employed at the bank.

Ochoa could face charges of grand theft, embezzlement, and even burglary.

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crimetracker, fresno, local, corin hoggard
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