BEAUMONT, TX (KTRE) - A 50-year-old Nacogdoches man pleaded guilty to a federal embezzling charge Monday in connection to allegations that he stole $30,025 while he was working as a teller for Texas Bank and Trust's Cushing branch.
According to federal court documents, Jonathan "Jay" Self stole the money over a period of time from March 1, 2013 to June 5, 2015. The documents also show that Self worked for Texas Bank and Trust for about 30 years before he was fired.
In June of 2015, the holder of the HD Cattle Company account at the bank's Cushing branch notified Texas Bank and Trust officials that there were numerous unauthorized debits. An internal investigation by the bank revealed that between March 2013 and June 2015, Self made unauthorized debits to the account that totaled $30,025.
"The investigation revealed that Self would usually make these debits on the same day that HD Cattle Company would make a withdrawal from the account," the federal court documents stated. "Self would do a counter debit and cash withdrawal to the account. On some occasions, Self would make a cash deposit into his account on the same day."
The federal documents show that Texas Bank and Trust's senior vice president and chief risk officer spoke to Self's attorney on June 21, 2015, and the attorney said Self wasn't contesting the unauthorized withdrawals on the HD Cattle account.
East Texas News has the part of the story you won't finds in court documents.
The victims were close friends of Self. They could almost be called family.
Jay Self is a personable, likable kind of guy. The piano teacher's immense talent is popular at nursing homes to parties and churches.
Joan Gresham, the victim in the case, still can't understand why her closest friend would want to steal from her and her husband.
"I've known him all of his life," Gresham said. "We worked together at the bank for several years. We sang together."
They sang together at the McKnight Methodist Church where Gresham's daughter grew up with Self.
"It's sad that he used us when he loved us so much," said Candi Procell, Gresham's daughter. "He baby-sat us when we were little. He came to all of our family functions. Had Christmas with us. He was more family than a friend."
Gresham's sister-in-law managed their elderly mother's account. She would call the family friend to make approved transfers from the Gresham cattle business account. That went on for at least two years.
"And I would see a debit in there and that's all I would see," Gresham said. "I assumed the whole debit was going into the account. He knew that we were getting our debit slips, but he knew we weren't getting hers."
The red flag was when an $1,800 cash withdrawal caught Gresham's attention with no deposit slip to back it up. She kept looking.
"It got to be too much. Say $400-500," Gresham said. "This would happen several times a month. And every now and then, there would be a [debit] with no deposit at all."
Texas Bank and Trust began its own investigation tracing the theft to Self. Then they took one more step.
"They reviewed the footage from the cameras," Gresham said.
The video showed Self pocketing cash, Gresham said.
"He said, 'I'll pay it back' to you now," Gresham said. "I said, 'You need to get an attorney.'"
After pleading guilty, Self is now hoping that attorney can work to reduce the maximum punishment for embezzling $30,000.
"The punishment is anywhere from probation up to 30 years in the federal penitentiary and up to a million-dollar fine," said Sean Hightower, Self's defense attorney.
Self has an elderly mother in a nursing home, which could be an influencing factor for probation.
Gresham said her family was caring for an elderly parent, too, so Self deserves full punishment. She also said a lesson was learned.
"Oh yes. Definitely," Gresham said. "You learn not to trust anyone. And that's a sad way to be."
East Texas News reached out to Self through his Facebook account, giving him an opportunity to provide a statement. So far, we haven't heard.
Meanwhile, the Greshams have been reimbursed for their loss. However, they said civil suits will be filed.