A former US sheriff's dispatcher in a suburb of New Orleans has been arrested, accused of refusing to return more than US$1.2 million ($1.7m) that had been accidentally deposited into her brokerage account, authorities said.
Kelyn Spadoni, 33, was taken into custody last week on charges of theft valued over $25,000, bank fraud and illegal transmission of monetary funds, nola.com and WVUE-TV reported. The reports said she was fired by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office after her arrest.
Spadoni was later released from Jefferson Parish Correctional Centre on a $50,000 bond.
It was unknown if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
Spadoni is accused of immediately moving the funds to another account and using some of the money to buy a new car and a house, authorities said.
The new car was reportedly a 2021 Hyundai Genesis.
Authorities said a clerical error had caused Charles Schwab, a major financial services corporation, to deposit more than $1.7 million into her brokerage account when it only meant to transfer about $116 in February, nola.com reported. When the bank attempted to reclaim the money, the request was rejected because the money was not available, according to the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office said it was later learned that Spadoni had moved the funds into another account.
Capt. Jason Rivarde, a sheriff's spokesman, said that although the money was put into her account, "it's not her money".
"She has no legal claim to that money," he added. "Even if it was put in there by mistake. It was an accounting error."
Charles Schwab & Co. sued Spadoni on Tuesday in federal court. The company tried to contact Spadoni several times to have the transferred funds returned but were unsuccessful, Rivarde said. So far, about 75 per cent of the money has been recovered, he added.
The company argued in its lawsuit that Spadoni's account contract with Schwab includes an agreement that if a client receives an overpayment of funds, the client is required to return the full amount.
"If someone accidentally puts an extra zero on a utility payment, they would want that money returned or credited to them. This is no different," Rivarde said.
He said Spadoni had been with the sheriff's office 911 centre for 4 and 1/2 years.
The US case has echoes of a notorious case in New Zealand in which a Rotorua family flee the country after millions of dollars were deposited into their account in 2009
A $10 million overdraft facility was mistakenly loaded into Leo Gao's business account by Westpac Bank.
He then fled New Zealand with his then-partner Kara Hurring, transferring the money and heading to the Chinese territory of Macau.
Hurring was eventually arrested when she returned to New Zealand in 2011, with Gao being picked up trying to cross the border into Hong Kong in the same year.
Gao was sentenced to four years and seven months and released in 2013 after serving 16 months.
Hurring was sentenced to nine months home detention for her role in the theft.
- AP, additional reporting NZ Herald