Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crime and Punishment

Hints of a major scandal rocked our little burg last spring when three employees were suspended from our local bank under suspicion of embezzling. If you read Philly papers, you saw the news explode this week, as indictments were finally handed down.

The short version is that the head teller at our local bank - located across from the police office! - started stealing money from the bank's ATM machine several years ago, falsifying records to cover her tracks. Eventually two other tellers joined in the scheme with her, and the theft expanded to include shorting cash deposits made by local merchants and stealing coins collected from the town parking meters.

The three women are being collectively charged with stealing over $100,000 from the bank, and the true number is surely many orders of magnitude higher.

Reading our local paper last night and trying to explain to my aghast sons what had happened, something struck me. Of the local merchants who were interviewed, all reported having had problems with these particular tellers for several years now, of having their cash deposits come up short when counted by one of these particular tellers, and of being met with hostile and belligerent attitudes when they questioned the tellers' counts. It was so pervasive, in fact, that one unnamed merchant told a local reporter that he had years ago instructed his staff to "watch out" for these particular tellers and avoid making deposits at their windows.

Which reminds me an awful lot of what I discovered in the aftermath of Gerald Klever's arrest: everyone in town knew. Everyone in town fucking knew. They knew that he had a taste for young girls, and they knew of his predatory behavior. The older teen girls knew that you never accepted a babysitting request from the Klevers. The moms of the older girls knew that play dates should be at their own houses, not at the Klevers. It was just not discussed, and no one did a damned thing about it.

Why in the hell didn't the bank manager (who allowed the ATM theft to occur by dint of her not adhering to corporate procedures regarding double-signature verifications of cash balances) take seriously the multiple complaints from local merchants - who were shorted on virtually every cash deposit that they made? Why didn't she investigate? Why didn't any of the merchants file a police report? Or, hell, why didn't the merchants simply talk to their peers and discover years ago just how big a problem was sitting under their noses?

Why did Klever's wife permit these atrocities to go on under her own roof, and do nothing about it (let alone do anything to protect her own children)?

Why didn't the adults of my town call that miserable son-of-a-bitch to account for his actions decades ago, sparing god knows how many other children his vile attentions?

All that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Please remember that the next time you're tempted to "not make a big deal" out of something.


(The three former tellers will be tried and are likely to do time at a state facility, where "lifers" are imprisoned. Their lives, as they know them, are over. They are very likely to receive much harsher sentences than Klever did. What a world we live in.)


Domestic Goddess said...

It's strange, isn't it? I don't get it, either. But because they stole from a bank ,it's a federal offence. And that bastard...ugh.

You are right. People KNEW. I don't understand why no one speaks up.

Diane said...

It's sad, but I can't quarrel with a word of it.

Emily said...

You know I think people are so hesitant to say something and accuse people for fear of being wrong. I know I typically think twice before trusting myself. This goes to show you that you SHOULD trust your gut.

MemeGRL said...

What hit home most with me was the husband and wife who would squabble over her "careless" counting of the money. And OTOH, if even the police and fire were fooled for a time, it's hard to think that anyone else would have figured it out. Why they stuck with that bank when there was another one around the corner is what floors me.
We dealt with them because they hold our mortgage but everything is automated for the most part. The funny thing is that it felt like every time I did have to do something by hand (an odd check, etc.), something went wrong. It's one reason we never transferred the rest of our stuff there. OY.

Namazu said...

You want parking meter graft? I bet this sets a world record.