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Ex-bank teller pleads guilty to 15-year embezzlement

A former Mount Pleasant bank teller has pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $700,000 from Bank of America in a long-running crime that went undetected for 15 years.

Michele Gentry, 59, also was charged with filing a false income tax return.

She waived her right to an indictment and pleaded guilty to the two counts in front of U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel on Monday.

While working at a Bank of America branch in Mount Pleasant, Gentry’s job included transferring cash from the vault to the teller drawers, assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart told Gergel.

She skimmed off about $720,000 in federally insured deposits in $500 to $2,000 increments “on an ongoing basis” from 1996 to 2011, DeHart said.

Gentry used a combination of fictitious bank documents and ledger entries to cover up the losses, he said.

“The embezzlement was discovered by the branch manager when Gentry missed work one day while sick,” DeHart said at the plea hearing.

Gentry was fired in August 2011, and she later confessed on separate occasions to a bank investigator and to government agents, he said.

Prosecutors also said she failed to report $101,425 she received from the embezzlement on her 2007 federal tax return.

Gergel has not yet scheduled a sentencing date.

Gentry faces a maximum penalty of 33 years in prison, $1.1 million in fines and six years in a supervised release program. The court also will determine restitution, and prosecutors plan to seek a forfeiture of property to offset the losses.

Gentry is free on a personal recognizance bond. Her attorney, Alan Toporek, declined to comment Tuesday.

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