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January 29, 2021

Ex-bank branch manager allegedly stole $111,000

When she managed The Fauquier Bank’s branch in The Plains, Susan W. Wright allegedly stole $111,000 from four customers. The prosecution will focus on nine of the original 36 charges.
There’s no doubt there was a bank fraud. I would say we’re well beyond probable cause.
— Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Charles K. Peters
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
If convicted of multiple embezzlement and related charges, the former Fauquier Bank branch manager could be sentenced to decades in prison.

A Fauquier County Circuit Court grand jury on March 22 will decide whether to indict Susan Woolston Wright, of Upperville, who allegedly stole about $111,000 from four bank customers.

Last July, investigators charged the former bank branch manager with 36 counts of embezzlement, forgery and uttering in the massive theft. Uttering involves passing forged or counterfeit documents.

While the Fauquier commonwealth’s attorney has dropped 27 counts, it reserves the option of revisiting any or all of them.

Chief Prosecutor Scott C. Hook declined to comment on that decision.

After an hour-long hearing in Fauquier County General District Court on Wednesday, substitute Judge Sean A. Sherlock certified the remaining nine counts to a circuit court grand jury for consideration.

Each embezzlement conviction carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison; each forgery and uttering conviction carries a penalty of up to 10 years.

If convicted of the nine certified charges, Mrs. Wright, 36, could be sentenced to up to 120 years in prison. Maximum fines would total $22,500.

Mrs. Wright served as The Plains branch manager in 2019 and until early the next year, when she took the same job with a Maryland bank.

Mrs. Wright allegedly stole the money in 2019 and 2020. The bank has reimbursed the victims for their losses.

The nine counts sent to the grand jury address only the alleged theft of $19,560 from the Wilma A. Swart Trust, according to court documents.

The bank and prosecution believe that Mrs. Wright doctored cash withdrawal slips three times between Oct. 29, 2019, and Jan. 23, 2020, to steal from the Swart trust.

Fauquier Bank Director of Security Josh Brown and Mrs. Swart, 80, testified at Wednesday’s hearing.

Among other things, Mr. Brown said he reviewed bank security system video that shows the defendant apparently altering a cash withdrawal slip on one of the dates in question.

The bank security director also said the allegedly fraudulent withdrawal slips carry Mrs. Wright’s branch manager employee number, indicating she processed those documents.

Mrs. Swart testified she didn’t remove or authorize anyone to take money from the couple’s account using the cash withdrawal slips.

Warrenton lawyer Joseph A. Pricone represents Mrs. Wright.

Mr. Pricone challenged the validity of withdrawal slips in Mrs. Swart’s name that his client allegedly had falsified.

He also described the bank video as unclear, providing no proof that his client had doctored cash withdrawal slips for the alleged purposes.

Mr. Pricone stressed that the bank security officer failed to say what became of the missing cash.

“What I didn’t hear from Mr. Brown: Where is the money?” the lawyer said. “There was no testimony that Mrs. Wright took cash.”

Based on the testimony and evidence presented, “there’s no doubt there was a bank fraud,” Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Charles K. Peters concluded.

Mr. Peters added: “I would say we’re well beyond probable cause.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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Truepat · February 1, 2021 at 6:30 am
FNB was sure run into the ground the last few years, perhaps that's why it got bought.....
BestKeptSecrets · January 30, 2021 at 4:13 pm
This should tell the public you can't even trust this institution to protect you from an inside job. As mentioned below there are a number of programs the bank should have had in place to prevent this. Who does the back ground checks? Your credit and finances should be part of it in working for a bank. She went after a trust. Should Fauquier county residents be concerned with the safety of their money in this bank? You have to be able to keep bank employees honest. Measures should have been in place. How corrupt can you be?
youcantfixstupid · January 30, 2021 at 10:26 am
But she needed to feed her kids so its ok
TADD · January 30, 2021 at 6:48 am
She didn't stop at one customer but rape 3 more of their hard earn money. Wasn't it good enough she had a management job? Wasn't the first lump sum enough? No. It would be interesting to discover if she targeted the elderly customers thinking they would not have the energy to fight this and see it through. Banks are suppose to be trustworthy of handling our money. She used her power position to exploit. She deserves the max sentence. What's next Ma Barker? It wasn't good enough to take advantage of one, you have this in your make up, your genetics.
Truepat · January 29, 2021 at 6:35 pm
If this case goes like the other embezzelment cases, she will walk....
Savefauquiercounty2019 · January 29, 2021 at 5:06 pm
Where are the check and balances to prevent these horrific events? Periodic audits? Supervision of management staff? Banks are already screwing customers out of interest payments on their savings and checking accounts by low balling them. Veterans, you can use USAA. They are an outstanding, customer focused company. I hope she gets puts in prison for decades and let's send a message to the crooks to help prevent this from happening again.
Rover 530 · January 29, 2021 at 11:42 am
Another embezzlement of bank/business funds. How many are out there that don't get caught?
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