Leopold woman sentenced to nearly 2 years in prison for bank fraud

LEOPOLD, MO (KFVS) - The United States Attorney's Office announced Monday Crystal Renee Elfrink was sentenced to 18 months on one felony count of bank fraud.

She appeared before U.S. District Judge John A. Ross.

According to the attorney's office, in October 2009, Loretta Elfrink was a retired school librarian and postal worker living in Bollinger County, Mo. who had invested her savings with Commerce Bank, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Edward Jones and Wells Fargo Advisors. Crystal Elfrink was Loretta Elfrink's niece by marriage.

The attorney's office says Crystal Elfrink was named as one of the trustees for Loretta Elfrink's revocable trust and was granted a power of attorney to act on Loretta Elfrink's behalf. The power of attorney allowed Crystal Elfrink to make banking transactions on behalf of Loretta Elfrink, but provided that Crystal Elfrink was "not allowed to personally gain from any transaction he or she may complete on Loretta Elfrink's behalf."

Crystal Elfrink then contacted each bank and investment companies and informed them that she would be making withdrawals from these accounts in order to pay for the needs of Loretta Elfrink. At the time that Crystal Elfrink made these representations, the attorney's office says she knew that the representations were false and that she intended to convert some of the funds for her personal benefit.

Startin in November 2009, the attorney's office says Crystal Elfrink caused the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Edward Jones and Wells Fargo Advisors to send funds to her, which she then placed in a Commerce Bank account owned by Loretta Elfrink.

They say Crystal Elfrink then made cash withdrawals from the Commerce Bank account by using Loretta Elfrink's VISA card and by charging purchases directly to the Commerce Bank account. This money was then used for the benefit of Crystal Elfrink and her husband.

With the plea, Crystal Elfrink admitted that when she made these withdrawals and purchases, she intended to defraud Loretta Elfrink of those funds and did cause a financial loss to Loretta Elfrink in excess of $120,000.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Keith D. Sorrell handled the prosecution for the government.

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