Chester County bank manager accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from 8 victims’ accounts

CHESTER COUNTY — The branch manager of a Downingtown bank was arrested Monday, accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from clients, including the accounts of a person with special needs and a dead man.

Anthony Rife, 38, is charged with theft, forgery, and related crimes, according to Chester County District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan announced in a press release. A resident of Parkesburg, Rife also serves as a member of the Parkesburg Borough Council.

According to the criminal complaint affidavit, officials from the Downingtown National Bank contacted Chester County detectives on Sept. 1, 2017, to report a potential theft by Rife, who served as manager of the bank’s branch in Ludwig’s Corner. Bank officials had been alerted to the suspected theft by a customer.

Detectives launched an investigation and uncovered a complex theft scheme by Rife, who also worked at a bank location in Exton.

In 2015, investigators say, Rife opened checking and savings accounts that were part of a trust for a person with special needs. He later handled all transactions for the trust accounts.

In July 2017, a family member of the trust accounts noticed that approximately $20,000 was missing, according to investigators. The family member attempted to contact Rife, who was out of the office. When another bank employee looked into the matter while Rife was absent, and the scheme began to unravel, according to investigators.

A detailed forensic review of Rife’s activities revealed that he had allegedly been stealing money from eight different victims, investigators say, using the trust account as the primary vehicle for his thefts. Rife would access the accounts of the other victims and transfer money from those accounts to the trust accounts to conceal the money he had taken from the trust accounts. He created a complex web of transactions, both to access money and to conceal his activities, according to investigators.

Rife even activated the account of Richard Baker — who is deceased — as part of his scheme, investigators say.

In all, Rife is accused of stealing $118,771.18 from the eight victims, according to investigators. He has been fired by the bank.

Rife is free on $75,000 bail, according to Hogan.

“Downingtown National Bank did an excellent job of working with the district attorney’s office to investigate this complex scheme after it was discovered,” Hogan said in a press release. “A determined insider is always a threat to engage in fraud because of their knowledge of internal operations. But sooner or later, these schemes are discovered and prosecuted.”