4 SW Kan. bank employees facing federal charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Three southwest Kansas women staged a bank robbery in 2010 to cover up the embezzlement of more than $84,000 from their employer, federal prosecutors said in an indictment unsealed Thursday, while a fourth woman joined two of the others in stealing nearly $25,000 more over the next two-and-a-half years.

Ulysses residents Amber Gutierrez, 32; Hattie Wiginton, 32; Ashley Cravens, 28; and Linda Wise, 59, received a summons to appear in court on several felony charges July 31.

Gutierrez, Wiginton and Cravens each are charged with two counts of embezzlement by a bank employee and one count of bank robbery. Wiginton also is charged with making a false statement to the FBI. Wise is charged with one count of embezzlement.

Gutierrez was head teller at Western State Bank in Ulysses and Wiginton and Cravens were clerks when the three embezzled $84,200 from the bank by creating false cash deposit slips and putting the money into their personal accounts.

Prosecutors said the scheme ran from sometime in 2008 to July 24, 2010, when the three staged a bank robbery to cover up their crimes. An FBI news release that day said two people entered the bank around 7:30 a.m. as it was opening for business, with one of them wielding a knife and both wearing a black mask.

Wiginton lied when she told FBI agents later that day she didn't know who robbed the bank, there were two robbers and one of them was a man with a Hispanic accent, prosecutors said.

From late 2010 until March 2013, Gutierrez, Cravens and Wise embezzled $24,450 more from the bank using falsified deposit slips, prosecutors said

Jim Cross, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, said none of the women were in custody and no lawyers had appeared in court on their behalf.

There was no answer at phone numbers listed for Gutierrez and Wise, a number for Wiginton was disconnected and there was no number listed for Cravens.

If convicted, the women face a maximum of 30 years in federal prison on each embezzlement count, 25 years and a $250,000 fine for robbery, and five years and a $250,000 fine for making a false statement to the FBI.