Joe Frank Rodriguez on Friday accepted a plea agreement in federal court for theft, embezzlement or misapplication by a bank officer.  

Rodriguez “removed and converted to his own use … a sum of approximately $143,000” court records said.

Court records said Rodriguez started with Centennial Bank in Plainview as a teller in 2004.  Over time, he was promoted to manager.  

“As a manager with the bank, defendant had direct access to the vaults at this branch location in Plainview,” court records said.

Rodriguez admitted that starting in October of 2016 he began entering one of the bank vaults and removing cash for his own personal use. 

If a judge or magistrate accepts the plea deal, then Rodriguez will be sentenced at a later date.  The maximum penalty would be 30 years in prison. 

A portion of court records said: 

In January 2018, the bank began an internal investigation after learning that money was missing from the vaults of the branch location in Plainview, Texas. When confronted by bank management, defendant confessed to stealing the money from the bank’s vault. Defendant informed bank management that he used the stolen money to pay for everyday expenses and further explained how he was able to embezzle the money without detection. Defendant admits that he knowingly embezzled and willfully misapplied funds which he knew either belonged to the bank or that was entrusted to the bank. Defendant further admits that he knew it was unlawful to steal the money from the bank and that he did so with the intent to injure and defraud the bank.

Centennial Bank issued the following statement: 

“We are grateful for the swift response by the Plainview Police Department and Plainview District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the US Attorney’s Office in bringing a conclusion to this matter. Centennial BANK has policies and procedures in place to prevent, uncover and report instances of theft from all sources. Immediate steps were taken following the discovery of this theft in January 2018 to stop any further activity by the individual. This was an isolated incident from an employee who was determined to steal from our bank. We would like our customers and the public to understand that at no time were any customer accounts compromised by this activity.”