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Former bank manager sentenced in theft case

CUMMING -- A former bank branch manager has been sentenced to 15 years of probation for taking more than $25,000 from the First Citizens Bank location in Forsyth County.


Deborah Stewart, 56, of Cumming entered the negotiated plea Tuesday before Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Dickinson.


In addition to the probation, 120 to 180 days of which will be spent in custody, Stewart was ordered to pay $25,340 in restitution, serve 120 hours of community service, sign a Fourth Amendment waiver and meet other probation requirements as well as additional fees.


Stewart was accused of three counts of identity fraud, two counts of third-degree forgery and one count each of second-degree forgery and theft by taking from the business and its customer accounts.


The thefts reportedly occurred between October and December 2012 at the bank’s Bethelview Road branch in west Forsyth, which Stewart managed.


The additional charges of computer forgery, computer theft and computer trespass initially levied by the sheriff's office were dismissed.


According to Sheriff's Investigator Frank Karic, the agency launched an investigation in January 2013 when Charles Buckner, chief executive officer and president of the Dawsonville-based bank, filed a report "after a cash-count revealed a substantial shortage at the branch."


During the four-month investigation, Karic found evidence implicating Stewart in the thefts.


Bank officials have said no customers were financially impacted by the theft.