A former vice president at the First National Bank of Whitney, who said her gambling addiction drove her to embezzle more than $6 million from the Hill County bank, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in federal prison.
Mary Helen “Murty” Lane, 58, apologized to bank officials for betraying the trust they bestowed on her.
“I’d like to ask for forgiveness, but I actually understand if that is not possible,” she said.
Lane, who worked at the bank for 27 years, pleaded guilty in Waco’s federal court in March to theft, embezzlement or misapplication by a bank officer or employee during a 10-year period.
Federal officials say she used the money she stole to finance lavish gambling trips to Las Vegas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, to buy sports cars and pay her debts.
Officials reported that in one year, Lane, who occasionally won big, ultimately left $20 million behind at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. That amount includes millions of dollars of winnings.
U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. also ordered Lane to pay $6 million in restitution and to be supervised for five years after her release from prison. The judge allowed her to remain free on bond until the Bureau of Prisons determines where she will be placed.
Lane’s attorney, John Floyd, said his client had an “insidious addiction” to gambling. He said she is financially ruined and intends for “every dime she has” from the $47,000 she made from selling her home to go toward restitution payments to the bank.
Floyd tried to earn credit points with the judge before sentencing by saying that bank officials had no idea about the missing funds until she resigned from the bank in January 2012 and sought the help of an attorney.
But the judge cut Floyd short and said pre-sentence reports indicate that bank officials knew of “accounting irregularities” but not how or who had stolen the money.
Floyd argued that Lane deserved credit for cooperating with bank officials and telling them how she was able to accomplish stealing an amount that depleted most of the bank’s assets without detection from officers or auditors.
Federal authorities said in court records that Lane removed large amounts of cash from the vault and then created false bank documents to hide her thefts and to “fool bank employees and bank auditors.”
Bank officers used insurance proceeds, loans and personal cash from board members to keep the bank afloat, officials said Thursday.
Mike Farquhar, president of the bank, asked the judge before he sentenced Lane to consider the magnitude of her actions and the depth of her betrayal, both of which, he said, almost put the bank out of business.
“I would have trusted her with my life at one time,” he said. “All of us considered her a friend. She robbed us over a 10-year period while working with us every day and looking us in the eye.”
Bank board chairman Gene Adams asked the judge to give Lane the “utmost penalty for the dastardly act” that she perpetrated.
A co-worker told an FBI agent that Lane kept so much cash on hand that she went home on a few occasions to get cash when the bank ran out of $100 bills.
Lane retrieved $100 bills from her home and brought them back to use at the bank in exchange for smaller bills, according to court records.
She used the majority of the embezzled money to gamble at casinos in Las Vegas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, court documents state. Lane often gave her co-workers $100 bills, claiming she was a big winner at the casino, records indicate.