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Gambling addiction 'does not justify stealing $300,000 from Arkansas grandma bank teller'

Arkansas Governor's Bank teller Pamela Cooper was a grandmother who wasted a year and a day at Southland Casino for $300,000.

SymClub
Apr 8, 2024
2 min read
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Pictured above is the Southland Arkansas casino where Cooper lost all her ill-gotten gains in 13....aussiedlerbote.de
Pictured above is the Southland Arkansas casino where Cooper lost all her ill-gotten gains in 13 months. Prosecutors say it would be a 'miscarriage of justice' if she avoids jail.aussiedlerbote.de

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Gambling addiction 'does not justify stealing $300,000 from Arkansas grandma bank teller'

A bank teller who stole $300,000 from Governors Bank of Arkansas (PBA) was told her gambling addiction and mental health issues only partially excused her actions. She was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Pamela Cooper, a 63-year-old grandmother in Marion, Arkansas, pleaded guilty last week to one count of embezzling bank funds from a PBA branch in that city, which is part of the Memphis metropolitan area. PBA was acquired by Southern Bank last year.

An FBI investigation revealed that Cooper, who earned $30,000 a year at the branch, lost a total of $311,925 at nearby Southland Casino. Cooper's losing streak lasted just over a year, from November 2019 to December 2020.

She was fired from the bank on December 22, 2020, after an internal audit a month earlier found a $200,000 hole in the funds.

Subsequent inspections of cash drawers and recycling machines — which dispense cash to tellers the same way ATMs dispense cash to bank customers — revealed that another $94,000 was missing.

Internal Hearing

The only area of ​​the store that needed to be audited was Cooper's cash drawer, which couldn't be opened because she had already said goodbye when she heard about the audit. When it was finally opened, there was just over $5,000 inside instead of the $25,000 it should have been.

Had Cooper not transferred the money from the vault to the recycler, her crimes would have been discovered much earlier. Prosecutors said she then altered the books to make it appear that no money was missing.

An audit later revealed that Cooper was the only employee with access to the safe and recycling bin.

Chasing Loss

Her attorney, Molly Sullivan, stressed that Cooper had been receiving counseling since his arrest for gambling addiction.

"A gambling addiction doesn't justify her behavior here, but I think it explains what happened," Sullivan said, according to the Gazette.“Their access to capital and their thinking, ‘I’m just going to make it big in the casino and get the money back’ – that’s clearly not happening here.”

Public defender Sullivan asked for leniency in a sentence of one day in jail followed by five years of supervised release, taking into account Cooper's mental health issues, his previous good reputation and his sense of remorse.

But the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Crow, said it would be a "miscarriage of justice" for a defendant who faced up to 30 years in prison before the plea deal.

U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr. agreed.

"Stealing more than $300,000 is punishable by jail time," he said.

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Source: www.casino.org

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