Just Using Ingenuity, Lawyer Claimed : Ex-Banker Is Guilty of Embezzlement

A federal jury Friday convicted the ex-manager of a San Ysidro bank on charges that she embezzled more than $200,000 and defrauded the bank through intricate manipulations of the exchange rate for Mexican pesos.

But Guadalupe (Cha Cha) Alcantar, former manager of the border branch of the Bank of Coronado, was acquitted on the remaining 28 of the 31 charges in an indictment handed down last year.

The jury acquitted her ex-husband, Tomas Alcantar of Nogales, Ariz., on all 31 counts.

Jurors deliberated seven days before filing late Friday afternoon into the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Rudi M. Brewster to disclose their verdict.

The split decision leaves Guadalupe Alcantar facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the three counts on which she was found guilty.

She also is scheduled for trial May 28 on eight money-laundering charges that were severed from the just-completed trial. Government affidavits say some of the laundering involved the money of suspected narcotics traffickers.

Alcantar was convicted of engaging in a scheme to use the bank's money to play the peso market, transferring funds between U.S. and Mexican banks and money exchanges to take advantage of the Mexican currency's fluctuating value.

The bank's money would be returned in a day or two, after the profit from the currency manipulations was skimmed from the top.

Alcantar's attorney, Raymond J. Coughlan, had told jurors she simply used "good old American common sense and ingenuity" to make a profit without losing any of the bank's money.

Federal agents became aware of the scheme in early 1985 and placed a court-authorized wiretap on Alcantar's home and office telephones.

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