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Ex-bank official accused of taking $35,000 from 81-year-old woman

| Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 9:27 a.m.

A Rostraver Township woman is accused of taking $35,000 from an 81-year-old woman.

Washington County detectives charged Lesley Manown, 44, of 212 Pleasant Valley Blvd. with theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking.

Manown was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson in Monongahela, who set bail at $5,000 unsecured. She is scheduled to appear before Wilson at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 for a preliminary hearing.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Manown, who was once manager at the former 1st Federal Savings Bank in Donora, allegedly gained the unidentified victim's trust by telling her she would help the woman regain an automobile that had been repossessed.

Manown allegedly told the woman she would retain an attorney to assist in the process.

Manown had the victim sign numerous withdrawal slips and two checks, all drawn from the customer's various accounts, the affidavit states. The transactions totaled almost $35,000, police said.

The victim allegedly told police Manown would keep the money, purportedly to aid in getting the vehicle returned.

An auditing program purportedly alerted bank officials to the large, frequent withdrawals. That led to an internal audit in February 2012.

According to the complaint, the audit showed the $35,000 theft. Manown resigned from the bank after the audit.

Manown repaid the victim. The last payment was in April 2012, police said. According to police, Manown has repaid the victim $35,060.

In an Oct. 22 police interview, Manown allegedly acknowledged that she lied to the victim and said she repaid the stolen money.

She allegedly admitted to Chief James McElhaney that she used some of the money to pay bills and for shopping. She purportedly told McElhaney that she gave some of the victim's money to a couple that had been denied a loan at her bank.

Another case

In September 2012, Rostraver Township police accused Manown of taking more than $18,000 from the Rostraver Township Cheer Association.

She allegedly made fraudulent charges against the organization's bank account.

Police charged Manown with seven felony counts each of access device fraud and forgery and two counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.

She also was charged with 33 misdemeanor counts of access device fraud and two counts of theft by deception.

Most of the charges were dropped under the terms of a plea agreement in which she pleaded guilty to access device fraud-use of another's device without authorization.

Manown was sentenced to a year of probation and forbidden to have contact with the cheer organization.

McElhaney said that he is unsure if the new case would be considered a probation violation, because the alleged crimes took place in different counties.

Mary Jo Barelli of Westmoreland County Adult Probation, who McElhaney believed handled Manown's case, declined to comment or answer questions.

“Unfortunately, people preying on the elderly is an under-reported crime,” Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said in a statement. “I wish to commend Marie Christinis of the Area Agency on Aging Protective Services Unit and Chief McElhaney for their excellent investigative work in this case.”

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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