---- — WOBURN (AP) — A former personal banker has pleaded not guilty to stealing more than $2 million from more than 30 clients, including the elderly and her own relatives, to finance a lavish lifestyle, prosecutors said.
Elaina Patterson, 53, of Wilmington, was arraigned Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court on multiple counts of larceny. She was released on her own recognizance and barred from working in the personal finance industry.
Patterson stole from 31 investors and customers at the Reading bank where she worked from 1999 until 2011, prosecutors allege. The scheme went undetected as the branch shifted from a BankBoston, to a Fleet Bank, to a Bank of America, authorities said. Bank of America alerted law enforcement in November 2011.
She used the money for luxury cars, vacations, home improvements, and college and private school tuition for her children, authorities said. Investigators uncovered about $6 million in fraudulent transactions, some of which she covered up, for a total of about $2.1 million stolen, they said.
Patterson’s lawyer told the Boston Herald that it was important to note that she cooperated with authorities during the investigation. A message left at the lawyer’s office by The Associated Press wasn’t immediately returned.
According to authorities, the probe revealed that Patterson persuaded 15 relatives and friends to invest nearly $4.5 million as a part of her scheme and that she issued fake certificate of deposit receipts and Form 1099s on bank forms to make the investments appear legitimate. Authorities say she also set up accounts in the investors’ names without their knowledge, put her own address on the accounts, deposited the investors’ funds and used the money to fund payments to other investors and to funnel money into personal accounts.
Patterson then began stealing money from the accounts of customers, many of them elderly, to conceal her previous theft, investigators allege, often forging signatures on withdrawal slips.