DA Vance: Former Bank Employee Charged for Stealing Approximately $178,000 From Elderly Customer

January 15, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the indictment of JOVAN CUNNINGHAM, 34, for stealing approximately $178,000 from an 83-year-old customer at the bank where he was employed. The defendant is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree. [1]

“This defendant is accused of stealing from a blind, elderly woman whose only mistake was trusting him,” said District Attorney Vance. “It’s an unfortunate reality that all too often seniors fall prey to financial crimes perpetrated by those they trust. In an effort to spread awareness about this type of elder abuse and prevent future crimes, my Office and our partners recently hosted a Senior Scam Prevention Week aimed at educating the public about common scams and tips for prevention. I strongly encourage anyone who believes that he or she may have been the victim of this type of fraud to call my Office’s Elder Abuse Hotline at 212-335-9007.” 

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, from 2007 to 2013, CUNNINGHAM was an employee of People’s United Bank. Between November 5, 2011, and August 1, 2013, while working as a Customer Service Manager at a People’s United Bank branch located at 127 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, CUNNINGHAM stole approximately $178,000 from a blind, elderly customer of the bank. She was nearly 84 years old in November 2011 when the defendant began stealing from her. 

From the time the victim opened accounts at People’s United in 2009, bank personnel, including CUNNINGHAM, would assist her by bringing deposit or withdrawal slips to her apartment for her to sign, and bringing back the small amounts of cash that she had requested. Occasionally, bank personnel would assist the victim by writing checks for her sign in order to pay for rent and other expenses. The victim would occasionally withdraw cash in amounts less than $100 once every three-to-six weeks. However, the bank account was used mainly for investment purposes.

Over time, the victim came to depend on CUNNINGHAM as her primary contact at the bank.  Additionally, the victim invested money in Treasury bonds, and CUNNINGHAM would assist by preparing checks for her to sign to complete these transactions.  

Between November 2011 and May 2013, CUNNINGHAM withdrew more than $150,000 in cash from the victim’s account in more than 50 separate unauthorized withdrawals.  The victim did not authorize any cash withdrawals over $100 and many of these unauthorized withdrawals were between $2,000 and $4,500. During one eight-day period in April 2013, more than $20,000 in cash was withdrawn from the victim’s accounts. 

The victim was unaware that this money was being withdrawn from her account. She never received more than $100 in cash from CUNNINGHAM at any time. The larceny was only discovered when CUNNINGHAM wrote two checks to himself from a separate account of the victim’s in the summer of 2013. 

Assistant District Attorney Peter Rienzi is handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Assistant District Attorney Archana Rao, Principal Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Assistant District Attorney Catherine Christian, Chief of the Elder Abuse Unit; and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Investigative assistance was provided by Senior Rackets Investigators Thomas Mullin, and David Moser, under the supervision of Supervising Rackets Investigator Donato Siciliano, Deputy Chief Investigator Santiago Batista, Assistant Chief Investigator Michael Wigdor, and Chief Investigator Walter Alexander. Elder Abuse Unit Coordinator Melanie Chan, Paralegal Julien Tunney, Victim Services Case Worker Karina Abro, and Financial Intelligence Director David Rosenzweig also assisted with the investigation.
District Attorney Vance thanked Detectives Ramon Caraballo and Francis Hill of the Muhlenberg Township Police Department for their assistance. 

 [1] The charge contained in the indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:


•    Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, one count