Employee who stole $30,000 from FirstBank gets 18 months


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ST. THOMAS - A former FirstBank employee was sentenced to a year and a half of incarceration Monday after she admitted to pocketing nearly $30,000 in money that was not hers.

Latisha Halliday, 31, of Lindbergh Bay was a former sales and service representative who used her position at the bank to take money from it.

Police arrested Halliday in May last year and initially charged her with aggravated identity theft, obtaining money by false pretenses, forgery and embezzlement - the last two of which she pleaded guilty to under a plea offer from the V.I. Attorney General's Office.

V.I. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay sentenced Halliday to five years for each count, though all but 18 months of both terms of five years were suspended. Additionally, Halliday will serve the two separate 18 months sentences concurrently.

Halliday also will have to pay restitution, which amounts to $29,147.63 - the amount that she pleaded guilty to embezzling. She also will have to pay a $1,000 fine for forgery and $75 in court costs.

"I know what I did was wrong. I made a terrible mistake," Halliday said tearfully in court on Monday.

Halliday was hired by FirstBank in July 2007, according to the affidavit filed by V.I. Justice Department investigator James McCall.

Between April 12, 2010, and October 2010, Halliday was involved in at least a dozen incidents that later incriminated her.

According to the affidavit, Halliday forged the signatures of both the account holder and the branch operations manager to make withdrawals from an 82-year-old victim's bank account and also cashed the woman's Government Employee Retirement System check.

Halliday applied for and obtained three ATM cards in the same victim's name, according to McCall. Halliday also closed out a customer's account without authorization and opened a new account, transferring the funds from one account to the other, McCall said in the affidavit.

Halliday also obtained and deposited an insurance check in the same victim's name by forging the victim's signature, according to the affidavit.

By forging the victim's signature and another bank employee's signature, Halliday withdrew from the false account she created, McCall said.

Mackay's sentence was less than what was in the plea offer written by V.I. Assistant Attorney General Denise George-Counts, the prosecutor in the case. George-Counts was not present at the sentencing, and V.I. Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte instead handled the sentencing.

Halliday was represented by attorney Henry Smock.

Mackay said that she factored in Halliday's sincere apology, and also various letters from her friends, family and co-workers who supported Halliday through the entire process.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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