Bank President and 2 Others Charged With Stealing $2 M

admin —  March 3, 2009 — Leave a comment

The president and vice president of Countryside Bank, and one other, have been indicted on federal charges of stealing more than $2 million from the bank:

Scott D. Becker, 48, Meriden, Kansas; Stephanie R. Smith, 33, Meriden, Kansas; and Michael R. Wurm, 47, Meriden, Kansas, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and 33 counts of theft. Becker was president and Smith was vice president of Countryside Bank (formerly Meriden State Bank). The bank, which was insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, operated a branch at 3640 SW Fairlawn in Topeka, Kansas, in addition to its Meriden office.

According to the indictment, from 1999 until he was removed as president, Becker used his knowledge of the bank’s internal operations to steal more than $2 million from the bank. Some of the money went to fund Becker’s various private business operations including Mt. Bethel Trucking, LLC; Mt. Bethel Farms, Inc. Mt.Bethel Farms, LP; Countryside Square Leasing, Inc.; Countryside Crane Service, LLC; Countryside Excavating, LLC; Countryside Mortgage, LLC; Becker and Associates; and Becker Farms, Inc.

Becker was assisted in the conspiracy by Smith and Wurm. Smith was vice president of the bank, a member of the loan committee and board of directors, and secretary of the bank’s holding company. She was part owner of Countryside Leasing, Countryside Mortgage and Mt. Bethel Trucking. Wurm played various roles in the conspiracy including serving as contractor on construction projects for the branch bank and putting his name on loans that actually were intended for Becker‘s benefit.

Suffering from the embezzlements, the bank was examined in April 2003 by the Kansas Banking Commission. As a result of the bank examination, Becker and Smith were terminated from employment.

In a separate forfeiture count, the government is seeking a money judgement of more than $2 million, representing the proceeds of the crime.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 30 years and a fine up to $1 million on each count. The Federal Bureau of Investigation worked on the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney are prosecuting.

Acting U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker made the announcement.

As in any criminal case, a person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments filed merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.


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