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Bank employee arrested for allegedly stealing funds from customers

CrimeTheft
Bank worker arrested for allegedly stealing funds from customers in Santa Clarita

A bank employee has been arrested for allegedly stealing funds from customers in Santa Clarita, authorities said Wednesday.

L.A. County Sheriff's deputies arrested 25-year-old Samuel Jose Godinez on July 2 on suspicion of felony commercial burglary, theft by access card and for passing checks with known insufficient funds, sheriff's officials said.  

Godinez, of Valencia, is suspected of stealing funds from bank customers on two occasions at two bank locations.

The first allegedly was in January, when deputies were contacted by a Newhall resident regarding unauthorized transactions on his bank statement. The victim reported that an unidentified suspect used his bank card to spend more than $8,000.

A second victim contacted deputies in May about identity theft, reporting $16,000 had been taken from her checking account the previous month.

In an investigation, deputies discovered similarities between both cases and determined the suspect in each was a bank employee.

In the January incident, Godinez allegedly encouraged the victim to leave his debit card behind, assuring the customer he would receive a new one. Godinez then allegedly changed the PIN number and made purchases.

In the May incident, the victim left her debit card at the bank location, where Godinez allegedly retrieved it and used it without authorization. 

Godinez worked for a national bank chain, said Deputy Joshua Dubin. His employment was terminated by the bank after it completed an internal investigation.

The name of the banking institution was not released by authorities because Godinez has not been arraigned.

Most of the purchases made with the cards were cash withdrawals, Dubin said. Godinez was released from custody on bond. 

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @Caitlin__Owens, or email her at caitlin.owens@latimes.com.

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