Bank employee could face 30 years in jail for $400,000 scheme

A former People’s United Bank employee has pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a federally-insured bank, with prosecutors saying she stole more than $400,000 in a long-running scheme.

Maria Rosa Esteves, 40, of Bridgeport was employed at the bank from 1993 to 2014.

Beginning in 2006, Esteves worked primarily in the bank’s Adjustments Department, ultimately holding the title of lead adjuster. In that position, her responsibilities included arranging for bank cashiers’ checks to be issued to customers when a customer’s account needed to be adjusted.

Scheme involved cashiers’ checks

According to federal officials, Esteves used her position in the Adjustments Department to embezzle more than $400,000 from the bank by causing the bank to issue cashiers’ checks that Esteves would then use to pay individuals or entities that she owed money to, including her utility company, homeowner’s insurance company and mortgage providers.

Esteves also embezzled money by depositing cashiers’ checks into bank accounts she controlled and from which she was able to access the funds, according to federal officials. In total, officials said, Esteves misappropriated more than 300 cashiers’ checks.

Could get 30 years in jail

Recently, Esteves waived her right to an indictment and made a guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport federal court.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 7, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, a fine of up to $1 million and an order of restitution.

This criminal case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.