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Published on February 23, 2024
Former Chinatown Bank Executive Admits to $700K Fraud, Faces 30 Years in PrisonSource: Unsplash/Giorgio Trovato

A former finance bigwig at a Chinatown bank has admitted to dipping his fingers into the cookie jar, to the tune of $700K, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Sammy Sims, 61, of West Covina, copped to a single count of bank fraud after he was busted for raiding the coffers of Eastern International Bank, where he served as an executive, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California.

When he joined the lender as CFO in September 2017, Sims agreed to not misuse confidential info for personal gain. But from February 2018 through April 2021, he engaged in a crafty scheme to funnel bank funds for clearing personal tax debts, credit card bills, and even lavish expenditures including a Vegas trip, according to the plea agreement disclosed by the Justice Department.

In an expensive, fraudulent side hustle, Sims used bank employees’ identities to open life insurance policies in their names, all to benefit his wife who – working as a licensed life insurance broker – conveniently pocketed the commissions. He used roughly $311,608 of the bank’s money to cover policy premiums, and when confronted, Sims fibbed about the source of the personal data, suggesting hypothetical hacks and breaches, the feds said, as per the U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

After resigning amidst the controversy, Sims now faces up to 30 years behind bars when he receives his sentence on May 10. The case was unraveled by the FBI and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason C. Pang prosecuting.

Public Information Officer Ciaran McEvoy, offered no further comment on the matter. The news comes as a grave reminder that even those perched in positions of fiscal responsibility can become the architects of their downfall - and, potentially, a burden on the very institutions they once pledged to serve.