Lovettsville woman guilty of bank fraud, bilking small-business owners at Wachovia Bank

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2011; B01

A former Loudoun County manager at a bank pleaded guilty Friday to stealing $14.1 million from her customers and using the money to buy houses, vehicles, a luxury motor home and a helicopter.

Linda Tribby, 42, of Lovettsville pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years; a sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 3.

Tribby had worked as a "business relationship manager" at Wachovia Bank, which is now Wells Fargo, according to court documents. Based in Purcellville, she spent most of her time visiting customers, many of them small-business owners, according to authorities.

From 2003 through January, authorities said, Tribby convinced customers that the bank offered a "wealth management account" that earned tax-free interest. No such product existed.

Customers would then instruct Tribby to transfer money into the accounts, authorities said, and she would move it into her accounts or accounts with the names of her and her ex-husband or her boyfriend as authorized signers. Nobody has been charged as a co-conspirator, prosecutors said.

Tribby created and sent fake balance statements to customers, according to authorities; sometimes she made interest payments to customers so they would think their accounts were real.

In a federal courtroom Friday in Alexandria, Tribby had a French manicure and wore a green prison jumpsuit when she pleaded guilty before Judge Liam O'Grady. Tribby was arrested Jan. 23 at Dulles International Airport after returning from a trip that included a visit to Las Vegas, authorities said. Authorities found $30,000 cash in her carry-on, according to court documents.

Tribby gave a detailed, handwritten confession to law enforcement authorities that same day.

She said the money was used to pay $5,000 a month in medical bills for her grandfather, who had suffered a stroke; $700 a month in medical supplies for her mother; $60,000 for a caregiver for her daughter, who had a serious medical condition; and $20,000 for a drug rehabilitation program for her niece.

Authorities confirmed that her daughter was hospitalized for a serious illness.

"I accept full responsibility for my actions," she wrote in her confession. "No one else had knowledge I was transferring money from [customers' account] for my personal use. I never told anyone at the bank because it was against policy."

Tribby is required to forfeit items including cash, properties in Virginia and West Virginia, 200 acres in New York, where she built a hunting cabin, 100 acres in Nevada and a 1947 Bell helicopter she kept in Pennsylvania, authorities said.

She must also give up 19 trucks, vans and cars, including a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 1961 Corvair pickup; a golf cart; a pontoon boat; several tractors; and a 1992 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

When law enforcement authorities searched Tribby's home and property, she was said to have had "an assortment of livestock," including exotic birds and two zebras.

The zebras were sold in a private sale, according to Loudoun County Animal Services officials.

They also found a note, written to a family member, that said, "No one is responsible but me for this mess." In another note, to her parents, she wrote, "I did things to try to help others."

She wrote in a third letter: "Dear God, Please forgive me of my sins. The things I have done I did without any malicious intent ever. . . . May you forgive me. I love you. Linda."

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