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Bank Employee Accused of Stealing from Elderly Clients

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Linda Sue Foss seemed like an upstanding citizen, trusted banker and loyal friend.  She was a coordinator for an American Cancer Society charity event and even president of a merchant group in Montclair, Calif. But authorities alleged that she bilked at least seven mostly elderly clients out of nearly $1.4 million.

According to an affidavit filed on May 13 in Alameda County Superior Court, Foss, 62, of Dublin, Calif., stole from customers while working as a branch manager at a U.S. Bank on Mountain Boulevard, in Oakland, and then later during her tenure as manager of a nearby First Republic Bank branch.

Foss had been an employee of California National Bank since 1983, which U.S. Bank acquired in 2009.  She was let go from U.S. Bank in March of this year and began working at the First Republic Bank.

Foss was arrested on May 10.  Three days later, she was charged with 20 felony counts, including misapplication of bank funds, money laundering and grand elder financial abuse, according to a complaint.

According to the complaint, written by Ron Miller of the Alameda County DA Inspector's Unit, the thefts began in May 2010 but were discovered earlier this year after a wealth manager noticed that his client's bank statements had been altered.  The wealth manager notified U.S. Bank about his suspicions, but Foss denied giving the manager the altered documents.

According to records, on Feb. 22, 2013, $225,229.15 had been deposited into a CD account in the name of an elderly woman.  This money was later removed from her account "in an apparent attempt to restore the missing funds the first elder's account," the complaint states.

When asked about the transfer of funds, Foss allegedly replied that one of the clients was repaying the other for money borrowed during "the Oakland Hills fire" in 1991.  But the client said she had not borrowed any money; nor had she withdrawn any money from her CD.

Bank records show that on Feb. 8, 2010, there was $972,205.22 in her CD.  On Feb. 22, 2013, there was just $353,134.23.

Two of the victims, Carol Habiger, 83, and Julie Habiger, 49, are mother and daughter-in-law.

"I'm just really shocked by the whole thing," Julie Habiger, told SF Gate.

She added that her family has been friends with Foss for 25 years, often going out to dinner together.  

Foss is accused of stealing more than $42,000 from Julie Habiger and over $470,000 from her mother-in-law.

Foss, who was being held on $1.6 million bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty.

Representatives from the Montclair Village Association, U.S. Bank, First Republic Bank and JPMorgan Chase did not return phone calls to ABC News.  Neither did Foss' lawyer, Mark Vermeulen.

In a statement, Teri Charest, a spokesperson for U.S. Bank Corporate Public Relations, said that they have taken "every step to ensure customer accounts are whole and to work closely with customers on any issues they may have."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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