A former Bank of America Corp. senior vice president and her husband were charged with embezzling more than $2.7 million by making charitable donations on behalf of the lender before using intimidation and threats to get much of the money back for their own use.
Palestine “Pam” Ace, 45, of the bank’s global wealth & investment management division, and her husband Jonathan Ace, 46, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud allegedly targeting nonprofit groups that serve youth in Boston and Atlanta, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston said Monday in a statement.
Prosecutors claim Pam Ace from 2010 to 2015 approved 75 donations to basketball and educational programs and other organizations providing support to children with HIV/AIDS before insisting that about half of the money “be returned in order to ensure that Bank of America would continue to fund the organization,” according to the statement.
Ace’s husband then allegedly threatened the recipients with “public humiliation” to extract the return of as much of the money as possible.
Charlotte-based Bank of America uncovered the alleged scheme through an internal investigation that initially focused on the bank account of Pam Ace’s mother, according to an affidavit filed in court by FBI agent Sheila Magoon. The lender appears to have been tipped off by large structured payments into the account, according to the filing.
Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America, declined to comment on the charges.
David Duncan, Pam Ace’s lawyer, said in a phone call Monday that his client has pleaded not guilty and declined to comment further. Her husband’s lawyer, Matthew Thompson, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.