A former bank officer at Citizens National Bank in Brownwood is charged with the theft of more than $300,000 from the bank while employed there, and bank officials believe about $2 million was missing.
Dawn Bennett, 43, of Bangs, was arrested Monday on a charge of theft over $300,000 and remained Tuesday in the Brown County Jail. Her bond was set at $250,000, jail records state.
Bennett, who was the bank’s head teller and worked there for more than 20 years, told Texas Ranger Jason Shea she “liked going to the WinStar Casino” in Thackerville, Okla, Shea wrote in a probable cause affidavit. Bennett told She she would take money from the bank to the casino, the affidavit states.
CNB President and CEO John Guest declined to comment on the details of the investigation but said the bank is reviewing its procedures.
Guest and bank Executive Vice President Keith Clark the loss is being covered by the bank’s insurer and no depositors have lost money.
Bennett’s last day of work was Aug. 6, when she left on what was supposed to have been a weeklong vacation, Clark said. Bennett never returned from the vacation and no one at the bank has seen her since, he said.
In the years 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, Bennett spent just over $3 million at the casino and won jackpots totaling $1.3 million, Shea’s affidavit states.
“Win/loss” records from the casino — money that Bennett walked out of the casino with and did not put back in — totaled $333,780 in years 2016, 2017 and 2018. The win/loss for years 2011 and 2015 amounted to a $5,261 loss, the affidavit states.
Clark said he hired Bennett when she was a 17-year old junior and vocational education student at Bangs High School. He said she worked at the bank from 1992-’94 and from 1998 until her last day of work on Aug. 6.
“On Aug. 7, we knew how serious the problem was,” Clark said. He said the situation is “extremely disappointing. It affects everybody. We’re kind of a family around here. It certainly is a family atmosphere.”
According to Shea’s affidavit:
Brownwood Police Lt. James Kidd contacted Shea on Aug. 14 about the theft. On Aug. 20, Shea met with Brownwood police, Clark and other bank representatives.
Clark said bank officials became suspicious that money was missing based on a July 12 incident, when Bennett was supposed to have put a large amount of money into the vault. The money never made it to the vault and there was no paperwork showing the money was placed in the vault.
Shea met on Aug. 21 once again with bank representatives, who explained the process of how money is moved around in the bank, transferred from teller to teller and removed from the vault.
Before Bennett was promoted to the main bank, she was supervisor at the motor bank, Shea was told. Employees said when Bennett had that job, she never allowed them to balance the vault or do the end-of-day balance. On days when Bennett was not at work, she would come in and do the balance, employees told Shea.
On several occasions, Bennett gave tellers her purse with several thousand dollars and had them deposit the money in Bennett’s account, saying she’d won big at the casino, Shea’s affidavit states.
According to bank policy, no one could go to the vault alone and two keys were required to access the vault. The tellers had one key and Bennett, as head teller, had the other key. Several times tellers would be working with customers when Bennett would approach a teller and say she needed the teller’s key, which would give her access to the vault, Shea’s affidavit states.
After reviewing casino records, Shea reviewed Bennett’s bank records, which showed deposits ranging from $20 to $15,000 on a regular basis.
Shea interviewed Bennett in his office on Sept. 4 and Bennett said she never took money from the bank. Bennett told Shea “there was no way millions of dollars were missing from the bank,” Shea’s affidavit states.
Shea told Bennett how the money was determined to be missing and how the money was tracked to her.
Bennett then made statements indicating she had taken money from the bank beginning in 2011.