SJ Bank Manager, Husband Bilk Victim of $1.1 M

The couple pleaded guilty to several counts of felony elder theft, and the 97-year-old victim has since died.

A JP Morgan Chase bank manager and her husband were convicted Thursday of scamming a 97-year-old man out of $1.1 million in life savings, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney.

Prosecutors said that bank manager Christina Bray, 30, befriended the elderly banking client and pretended to manage his financial affairs. Instead, prosecutors said, Bray and her husband, Jimmy Bray, 39, of San Jose, spent the victim’s money on  luxury cars and liposuction.

The couple pleaded guilty to several counts of felony elder theft.

Jimmy Bray was also convicted of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.

Christina Bray is set to be sentenced to an expected six years in prison and Jimmy Bray is expected to be sentenced to eight years in prison at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 4.

“Elderly people rely on bankers to carefully watch over their life savings,’’ Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard said in a statement. “The Brays criminally used this vulnerable gentleman as their ATM.”

As Bourlard tells the story, a retired handyman, the nearly deaf and blind San Jose victim met the manager last year while banking at JP Morgan Chase Bank. Christina Bray handled all of his banking needs while isolating him from other bank employees. She told people she was his niece. She and her husband drove him to appointments. Meanwhile, the bank manager withdrew cashier’s checks from the victim’s accounts without his knowledge.

With the victim’s stolen funds, the couple bought a $95,000 Mercedes Benz and an Escalade, records show.

They deposited $25,000 towards liposuction and $30,000 cash for rent on a San Jose home, spent more than $50,000 on jewelry, and bought flat screen TVs and Cartier watches, according to records. Over a period of five months, the bank manager transferred out of the victim’s JP Morgan Chase Bank account about $718,000, and opened up a joint account with the money at Comerica Bank under the name of the victim and her husband, according to prosecutors.

After Jimmy Bray made a large cash withdrawal, a suspicious Comerica Bank employee notified Adult Protective Services.

At about the same time, the victim’s real niece called the District Attorney’s Office, where prosecutors froze the remaining assets in the account.

When DA Investigator Dennis Brookins first met with the elderly victim, the man had no idea that his two “friends” were stealing his money. He told investigators that he saw Christina as his “mother” but never authorized them to take his money or knew they had transferred his life savings to an account at a different bank. As Brookins interviewed the victim, the couple arrived at the victim’s house in their new Mercedes to take the victim to the bank to withdraw the remaining assets. Instead, they were arrested.

Following the arrest, vehicles and other assets were seized.  After notifying JP Morgan Chase Bank of the crime, the bank immediately credited back to the victim’s account the swindled money. The couple will be ordered to pay the remaining restitution to Chase Bank.

The victim has since passed away.

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