SAN DIEGO — A bank employee who developed personal relationships with elderly customers in Imperial Beach and then siphoned roughly $300,000 from their accounts was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison Wednesday.
Leona Parsons, 49, was convicted on six counts of theft from an elder, forgery and identity theft. The District Attoney says Parsons “methodically siphoned cash from victim bank accounts,” by inflating the amount of cash they withdrew when they visited the bank. Parsons used the scheme some 85 times across the span of four years, prosecutors said, and she even forged withdrawal slips when customers hadn’t visited the bank at all.
Prosecutors say Parsons went to great lengths to make the victims feel close to her, running personal errands for them and visiting them at home. In one case, Parsons visited a victim on their death bed, earning his spouse’s trust in managing the family finances. “Parsons will take care of you,” the dying man told his wife, according to the DA. “Trust Leona.”
“In the span of four years, this defendant gained the trust of her returning customers and then violated that trust by stealing tens of thousands of dollars from each victim,” DA Summer Stephan said. “The defendant would insert herself in their lives attending funerals and making bedside visits in the hospital to ingratiate herself with the victims, all while stealing their money.”
Parsons was fired from Chase Bank when her bosses learned about the schemes, and the victims were reimbursed by the bank.
Before Parsons was sentenced, a handful of her victims testified in court Wednesday. “My family and I have shed many tears,” one man shared. “In the beginning I didn’t believe it, that she did it,” another woman said. “But I think that she deserves to go to jail.”
Parsons expressed remorse in the courtroom, but the judge presiding over her case said the former Chase employee was only sorry she got caught.
“It is one of the most egregious cases against a group of the most vulnerable people that this court has seen,”said San Diego Superior Court Judge Polly Shamoon. “You did it for eight years, over 80 times, to several different people … At their deathbed, you stole from them,” the judge said as she issued the sentencing. “That’s not remorse. That’s not regret. The only thing you regret Ms. Parsons is getting caught.”
Prosecutors believe Parsons may have had more victims. They urge anyone who used her services to contact San Diego Sheriff’s Detective Michael Proffitt at 858-285-6111.