Former Donora bank manager accused of bilking customer

November 7, 2013

A former bank manager in Donora was arrested Thursday on accusations she stole more than $35,000 from an elderly female customer of the branch over a two-year period.

Washington County Chief Detective James A. McElhaney arrested Lesley Manown, 44, of Rostraver Township, on two counts of felony theft in a case involving an 81-year-old woman.

Investigators accused Manown of conning the woman into signing numerous account withdrawal slips and two checks at a First Federal Savings Bank branch in 2011 and 2012 and using them to steal money from the victim’s accounts, the affidavit states.

Manown allegedly gained the woman’s confidence by promising to use the money to hire an attorney to retrieve her repossessed vehicle, Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said.

The bank branch, which has since closed, launched an internal investigation into the woman’s account in February 2012 after an internal computer program alerted bank officials of large, frequent withdrawals from her accounts. Manown resigned from the bank shortly after an audit revealed the thefts, the affidavit supporting the arrest states.

Manown apparently began paying restitution to the victim in March 2012 and, within a month, repaid her $35,060, the record indicates.

McElhaney noted in the affidavit he interviewed Manown Oct. 22 and she admitted to lying to the woman and using some of the money to pay bills and shop, and gave some of it to a couple who had been denied a loan at the bank.

The Area Agency on Aging’s protective services unit investigated the case with bank managers, Vittone said.

“Unfortunately, people preying on the elderly is an under-reported crime,” Vittone said, adding that only one in 44 cases of financial exploitation of the elderly is reported to police.

He said the annual loss by such victims has been estimated at $2.9 billion.

“The prompt reporting and investigation of this matter by members of the Washington County Elder Abuse Task Force led to the payment of restitution and the prosecution of the person responsible,” he said.

Manown, of 212 Pleasant Valley Boulevard, was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Mark Wilson and released on $5,000 unsecured bond.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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