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Criminal Charges, Volume XXXVI: Don’t lose your head

Jeremy Simon

I’m no scientist, but I’d be willing to bet that the head is a pretty important part of the human body.

Therefore, in celebration of heads everywhere, this edition of Criminal Charges includes news items where that appendage played an important role. First, we’ve got a father who allegedly flipped his lid over credit card expenses and threatened to chop off his son’s head. Next, we have a banker who stands accused of stealing thousands of dollars from her customers in part to pay for straightening her sons’ teeth.

Father allegedly threatens decapitation over credit card bill
Although living with credit card debt is upsetting, you should never lose your head over outstanding charges — or anyone else’s, for that matter.

Still, a Brandenton, Fla., man threatened take off his son’s head on Easter Sunday after a disagreement over a credit card bill turned very ugly. On the evening of April 12, Ronald Routh and his son Nicholas apparently got into a heated verbal argument after the father confronted his son about unexplained charges on his credit card.

Things soon escalated, according to a report by ABC 7 Florida news. “Ronald got so upset with his son that he grabbed a filet knife, held it up to him, and threatened to cut Nicholas’s head off. He told Nicholas to get his clothes, get out of his house and go live with his mother.”

As his son was collecting his clothes, the elder Routh allegedly entered the room and told Nicholas he had 10 seconds to leave or get shot. Not surprisingly, the son hurridly left. “Nicholas was in fear of his father and began to run outside to his truck,” ABC reports. “As Nicholas was getting into his truck, he saw Ronald point a handgun at him and heard at least one gunshot as he sped off.”

Nicholas was on the phone with his mother while this was taking place. She called the sheriff’s office and later confirmed hearing a gunshot over the phone. Ronald Routh was arrested and charged with domestic assault and firing his gun into the occupied vehicle.

Banker stole to pay credit card, orthodontic bills, authorities say
A former Wheaton, Ill., banker stands accused of using her trusted position to steal from elderly customers.

Amy R. Esposito, who formerly worked as a senior personal banker, allegedly befriended some of her elderly Community Bank-Wheaton/Glen Ellyn customers in order to steal more than $100,000 from their accounts. According to prosecutors, Esposito “targeted only west suburban Community Bank customers with whom she developed such a rapport that she knew they didn’t regularly check their bank statements,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Headgear.jpgProsecutors say that Esposito stole from the accounts of at least seven customers — including some in their 80s and 90s — for more than four years until she was fired in July. Authorities say Esposito used that money to pay for various expenses, including her two sons’ orthodontic work, jewelry purchases and her credit card bills.

Her sons’ teeth may have ended up straight, but their mother apparently remained crooked. “Esposito allegedly committed the thefts between 2004 and 2008, when a relative of one victim noted changes in an account and contacted bank officials,” the Sun-Times reports. “The bank conducted an internal audit, then notified authorities, prosecutors said.”

That led to a 30-count criminal indictment against Esposito on fraud, theft and money laundering charges. “Her attorney, Michelle Moore, said Esposito immediately cooperated with the investigation,” the Daily Herald reports. “She said the defendant’s ‘substantial’ 401(k) account likely will be used for restitution. Moore is investigating possible mental health and financial hardships that may shed light on the allegations.”


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