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A Chase bank employee who stole $300,000 from four elderly customers she befriended at the Imperial Beach branch was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in state prison.

Leona Parsons, 49, previously pleaded guilty to six charges, including theft from an elder, forgery and identity theft.

“In the span of four years, this defendant gained the trust of her returning customers and then violated that trust by stealing tens of thousands of dollars from each victim,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “The defendant would insert herself in their lives, attending funerals and making bedside visits in the hospital, to ingratiate herself with the victims, all while stealing their money.”

Parsons, a personal banker with an office inside the branch, methodically siphoned cash from the victims’ bank accounts by inflating withdrawal slips when they would come in to conduct business.

The most common scheme Parsons used was to have victims sit in her private office while she completed a withdrawal slip for them in the amount they requested. Unbeknownst to the victims, she would then alter the withdrawal slip so it was inflated by hundreds or even thousands of dollars at a time, prosecutors said.

The defendant would personally take the slip to the teller, make the withdrawal and return to her customer with the bank envelope full of the withdrawn amount. Parsons would present the customer with the money they requested and keep the inflated amount, concealed in the bank envelope. In addition to that scheme, which she used about 85 times in four years, Parsons forged withdrawal slips when customers were not in the bank, prosecutors said.

Chase bank terminated Parsons as soon as her scam came to light and reimbursed all of the victims for their losses, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

The victims had known Parsons for so long, they considered her part of their families and allowed her to run errands and visit them in their homes, according to Stephan.

After Parsons visited one of the victims on his deathbed, he told his wife to trust the defendant with their finances.

“Parsons will take care of you,” the dying man told his wife. “Trust Leona.”

— City News Service

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