A former vice president and senior lending officer of Lone Star National Bank (LSNB) has been sentenced to federal prison for bank fraud, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno announced on Friday, May 30.

Emma Vigil, of McAllen, was sentenced by United States District Judge Randy Crane to 51 months in federal prison, without parole, and ordered to pay a total of $589,494.74 in restitution to her victims.

Crane ordered that Vigil serve a five-year-term of supervised release—a form of probation with stringent conditions—after her release from prison. Vigil has been permitted to remain on bond until May 17, 2010, when she must surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service to begin her prison sentence.

Vigil, 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud on Dec. 15, 2009, admitting she used her position as vice president and senior lending officer to conduct hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent debit transactions from her loan customers’ bank accounts. She also admitted to fraudulently inducing the approval of a commercial loan, the proceeds of which were used for her own benefit.

Vigil conducted the fraudulent debit transactions in a variety of ways, according to the U.S. Attorney. In some instances, she would fill out a loan advance slip with her customer’s loan account information and request a teller to generate a cashier’s check made out to the customer. Vigil would later forge the customer’s name on the check’s endorsement line, wait for a period of time and then present the check to a teller for cash.

In other cases, Vigil simply filled out a checking or savings account withdrawal slip with her customer’s account information and presented the slip to a teller for cash. Vigil often informed the tellers that the cash from these transactions would be hand-delivered to her customers under a “banking made easy” approach to customer service. Vigil also employed a number of other tactics to conceal her fraud including stealing from customers she knew did not closely monitor their accounts and conducting transactions for amounts that resembled monthly loan payments owed by her customers.

Vigil also admitted to creating and submitting an application for a $179,500 commercial loan under the name of a person she knew did not exist. In addition to manufacturing the applicant’s name, Vigil induced the approval of the loan by using dates of birth, passport numbers and addresses belonging to her legitimate loan customers to fill out the application paperwork. Vigil also copied financial statements from a customer’s loan file and replaced the customer’s name across the top of the document with the fictitious person’s name to make it appear to LSNB as though the person was legitimate and creditworthy. When the loan was approved and funded, Vigil controlled the proceeds.

The FBI’s investigation of Vigil revealed that her four-year bank fraud scheme, beginning in 2005, caused approximately $1,150,000 in financial loss to numerous victims. Vigil was an employee of LSNB for 14 years prior to her termination from the bank in 2008.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory S. Saikin prosecuted the case for the government.