MACHIAS – A New Brunswick couple accused of stealing almost $90,000 in an automatic teller machine scam and later using the cash to buy a house, car and jewelry were sentenced Monday on theft charges.
Richard Libby, 30, and his wife, Lisa Libby, 29, of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, entered into a plea agreement to the charges.
Richard Libby was sentenced to five years in prison with all but nine months suspended. He was placed on four years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $44,855.
Items the Libbys bought with the money including a house in St. Stephen, cars and jewelry were sold and the proceeds were turned over to Calais Federal Savings and Loan. The couple agreed to immediately pay $37,000 in restitution that Richard Libby’s mother, Beth, was able to provide by cleaning out her savings and retirement accounts.
Lisa Libby, who also reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, was sentenced to five months and 29 days in jail.
During the sentencing Monday in Washington County Superior Court, Assistant District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh told Justice Ellen Gorman that the couple had left a clear paper trail.
On Nov. 3, 1998, Calais Federal Savings and Loan Association officials reported to police that between May and October the Libbys overdrew their account by more than $87,100. Most of those withdrawals were by means of their ATM card.
Cavanaugh said the bank had recently installed a new ATM system, and the employee who had set up the system had left on maternity leave.
He said people who used the ATM to access their bank accounts during the day were denied access if they attempted to withdraw more than what was in their accounts. But the Libbys discovered that during the evening hours, their account was not debited for the withdrawal, and the ATM gave them the money they had requested.
When bank officials discovered the problem, they checked their surveillance tapes and noticed the Libbys were using the machine at night.
Richard Libby immediately confessed when questioned by police, but he maintained that the bank shared some of the blame for having a system that was so easy to manipulate.
Lisa Libby at first denied any wrongdoing, but when confronted with her husband’s confession she admitted her part in the scheme.
During the discussion about the restitution, Cavanaugh said the house the Libbys had purchased was turned over to the bank, the cars were sold and the jewelry they purchased, totaling more than $3,000, also was sold.
Norman Toffolon of Machias, who represented Richard Libby, asked the judge to stay his client’s sentence until Jan. 8 so Libby could spend Christmas with his two children. The judge agreed.
Lisa Libby’s attorney, John Mitchell of Calais, asked for a delay in her sentence so she could care for the couple’s children while her husband was in jail. Mitchell said the children would be without either parent if they both had to serve their sentences at the same time. He also said he had a check for $37,000 from Richard Libby’s mother.
“This represents his mother’s entire savings,” Mitchell said. The judge agreed that Lisa Libby would not have to begin her sentence until September.