Patricia Keezer, 53, said the embezzling began in 2000, when she would give needy people $2,000 at a time for car repairs, mortgage payments and taxes. Keezer commonly reversed bounced-check charges and other fees when she was a manager of Citizens Bank, formerly known as Republic Bank, in Manchester, 70 miles southwest of Detroit.
"I would take other people's problems and make them my problems," Keezer told the judge. "I do have a problem with giving things away."
She repeatedly expressed remorse and said she would accept the death penalty for the crime if it were a possibility and she didn't have a family.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Shaw asked for two years in prison and said Keezer's claim of a crime rooted in charity was "implausible."
"We don't know where the money is. ... It just doesn't add up," Shaw said.
But defense lawyer Raymond Cassar noted there's no trail of luxuries. He asked the judge to sentence Keezer to home confinement.
"She didn't use it on herself. She didn't bury it in the ground. She didn't give it to her husband," he said of the missing money. "She gave it away. It's believable."
U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani chose to impose the minimum sentence for a convict to earn time off for good behavior.
"You are like a modern day Robin Hood," Battani said of the folklore hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. "Those Robin Hood days are long over."
The embezzlement was discovered a year ago. Authorities say Keezer covered her tracks by preparing false records and disguising the true value of the bank's cash by covering stacks of $1 bills with $100 bills during audits.
A bank official who was in the courtroom declined to comment.