Former Southern Illinois bank manager sentenced for fake bank robbery

EAST ST. LOUIS — A 40-year-old former Southern Illinois bank manager has been sentenced in court to three years federal prison on two counts of theft, embezzlement, or misapplication by a bank officer or employee and one count false bank entries.

In a press release, Acting U.S. Attorney James L. Porter said Matthew S. Liebheit, Moro, also was ordered to pay $140,862 in restitution and a $300 special assessment.

bank_robberyThe charges stem from a Dec. 13, 2014, bank robbery at Liberty Bank in Bethalto. Liebheit, a bank manager, called police to report a bank robbery, indicating that a masked individual forced him into the bank at gunpoint prior to the bank opening. He gave a description of the suspect’s vehicle and stated that he was forced to give that individual approximately $280,000 from the bank’s vault.

Further investigation revealed Liebheit’s truck was used as a getaway vehicle and Liebheit was involved in the planning of the staged bank robbery.

The “robber” was identified as Eugene Babcock, who Liebheit recruited to do the “robbery,” and who used a BB gun to make the robbery appear authentic.

Additional investigation showed Liebheit also had altered withdrawal documents from a customer’s account to reflect a larger than intended withdrawal from that customer’s account. The day before the staged robbery, Liebheit falsified documentation to show a substantial deposit to that customer’s account.

Babcock has pleaded guilty to his role in the staged robbery and is scheduled to be sentenced March 30.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bethalto Police Department. The case is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura Reppert and Jonathan Drucker.