Employee of central coast bank arrested for stealing nearly $110,000, mostly from elderly customers

An Arroyo Grande woman was arrested Tuesday by special agents with the FBI on charges of stealing money from a federally insured financial institution.

Brenda Bautista Hurtado, 25, was taken into custody without incident after being named in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury last Friday.

The indictment accused Hurtado of stealing money while employed last year at the U.S. Bank branch in Arroyo Grande. The indictment alleges that Hurtado stole nearly $100,000 from two customers’ accounts, as well as another $10,000 in cash from the bank’s vault.

The investigation in this case revealed that Hurtado secretly accessed U.S. Bank’s computer system and changed the contact information for the accounts of two elderly customers at the bank. After changing their contact information, Hurtado then allegedly closed these accounts and took out cashier’s checks for the balance of each account.

When one of the customers came to the bank and learned that his account had been closed, Hurtado went into the bank’s vault and took $10,000 in cash. Hurtado then went to Mexico for several weeks before returning to the United States. She was arrested this morning in Guadalupe, California, where she has been staying for the past few months.

The indictment alleges that Hurtado stole $50,907 on February 24, 2010 and another $48,163 on February 26, 2010. The indictment further alleges that Hurtado stole $10,000 in cash from the bank vault on June 7, 2010.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Each count of theft by a bank employee carries a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.