BELMONT – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has announced that Pamela Karalis, 44, of Watertown, was arraigned yesterday in Middlesex Superior Court and charged with four counts of embezzlement by a bank employee, larceny from a person over the age of 60, four counts of obtaining a signature by false pretenses, money laundering and tax evasion in connection with an alleged bank fraud of an elderly woman.
Clerk Magistrate Matt Day released the defendant on personal recognizance and ordered the defendant to not work, volunteer or provide services for the elderly, to not work or volunteer in financial institutions, to not handle other individuals’ financial information and to stay away from, and have no contact with, the victim. The next scheduled hearing in this case is January 31.
“The defendant in this case is alleged to have gained the victim’s trust through her position as a bank employee and as a friend, in an effort to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from the victim’s account for personal use. Many times vulnerable populations, like senior citizens, are financially exploited by people they believe are operating with the best intentions. This case is a reminder that seniors should remain vigilant in monitoring their bank accounts and exercise caution when asked by others to transfer personal funds,” said District Attorney Ryan.
The victim, a 90-year-old woman, was a regular customer at a bank in Belmont. During her visits to the bank she befriended the defendant who was an employee of the bank. The defendant and victim began to socialize outside of the bank including going to lunch. The defendant also took the victim to doctor’s visits.
Subsequently, on July 26, 2017, the defendant allegedly opened an account using the victim’s funds after convincing the victim that by opening a new account it would easier for the victim to manage her money. The defendant allegedly made this account an “employee account”, which made it so other bank employees would not be able to access it, and then named herself as the primary cardholder of the account. The defendant is alleged to have used three checks that the victim had signed, to transfer approximately $656,764 from the victim’s trust into the newly created account. The victim was not present at the bank at the time the checks were cashed.
The defendant then allegedly proceeded to use the account for cash withdrawals, to pay credit card debts and to transfer the victim’s money into a personal account. The defendant is alleged to have withdrawn approximately $210,448 for personal use. Belmont Police became involved in April 2018 after a confidential source notified Springwell, an elder service agency, of suspected financial exploitation. The defendant allegedly told investigators that the money was a gift from the victim, but a subsequent examination of the defendant’s tax returns showed she had not paid taxes for the transferred funds.
These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Heidi Gosule. The Victim Witness Advocate is Helena Clarke.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, under District Attorney Ryan’s leadership, is committed to protecting seniors within the community through innovative public/private partnerships including the Middlesex Senior Health and Safety Initiative, a comprehensive training program for EMS, police, and fire personnel designed to provide first responders with the necessary tools to identify the less conspicuous signs of abuse or neglect and, upon doing so, to activate a rapid response intervention.
Additionally, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s Senior Protection Program partners with local police departments, elder services and community-based banks to educate seniors on how to stay safe, avoid scams and theft and report abuse.
Before becoming District Attorney, Ryan served as Chief of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s Elder and Disabled Unit, where she prosecuted a myriad of crimes involving financial abuse and physical abuse of the most vulnerable victims. In that role, she collaborated with business and community leaders to conduct risk assessments and develop prevention plans for elders and disabled citizens. Ryan continues to host seminars in community settings to provide advice to residents about how to protect themselves.