General Crime

Oakland Banker Linda Sue Foss Pleads Guilty To Stealing From Clients

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A banker who once headed a merchant association in Oakland’s Montclair district faces 12 years in state prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $2 million from clients, many of whom were elderly. Linda Sue Foss, 62, entered pleas in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday to five counts of elder theft, two counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering.

She’s scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3 and will be ordered to pay restitution to 15 victims in an amount to be determined by then, District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said. Foss, who was president of the Montclair Village Association, was arrested May 10 and originally was charged with 20 felony counts. Alameda County District Attorney Inspector Ron Miller said in a probable cause statement that he began investigating Foss earlier this year after representatives from U.S. Bank and First Republic Bank said they were probing possible thefts from at least five elderly customers.

Miller said Foss had been the branch manager of the U.S. Bank branch on Mountain Boulevard in Oakland, where she was hired in 1983, but was suspected of embezzling money from two of the bank’s elderly customers who were “long-term friends” with her. In one case, a certificate of deposit valued at more than $972,000 had dwindled to about $353,000, according to Miller. He wrote that when the bank’s investigators questioned Foss about transferring the elderly clients’ money to her own account Foss claimed that one elder was paying the other elder back for funds that had been borrowed during the Oakland hills fire in 1991.

However, Miller said the victim told investigators that she never borrowed money from the other elderly client. U.S. Bank fired Foss in March but she immediately was hired by First Republic Bank to become a branch manager, according to Miller. First Republic Bank’s investigators soon discovered that Foss took more than $164,000 from a customer and gave that money to a former U.S. Bank client to hide an earlier theft, Miller wrote.

Foss then allegedly transferred more than $164,000 from a second elderly customer’s account to try to cover up the most recent theft, Miller said. Foss next removed $15,000 from another First Republic Bank customer’s account as a repayment to a U.S. Bank customer for another previous theft, he said. Miller alleged that Foss “used the trust and confidence from her client base as well as her clients’ personal banking information” to defraud customers. Foss’ attorney, Mark Vermeulen, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

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