DES MOINES, Iowa (AP/WHO) - Wells Fargo fired Richard Eggers this summer after discovering he was arrested 49 years ago for putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a laundry machine at the laundromat.
"I was a college student at the time. I had gone with a friend to the laundromat to keep him company while he did his laundry. I got bored waiting on the laundry and started cutting out dime-sized pieces of cardboard to see if they'd work in the washing machines," said Eggers.
Eggers was caught by a police officer who walked into the laundromat.
In compliance with a new federal law that forbids insured depository institutions, like Wells Fargo, from hiring people with criminal histories, the Des Moines branch of the company ran all of their employees fingerprints and background checks.
"The situation showed that I had a criminal background that based upon the federal statutes I was considered a risk in any organization that handles banking or mortgages," said Eggers. "50 years, almost half a century and it was a frivolous silly little stunt to begin with.
The tougher standards are meant to clear out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes such as identity theft and money laundering, but are being applied across the board because of possible fines for noncompliance.
A background check showed Eggers was convicted of fraud, even though court records show he was convicted of operating a coin changing machine by false means.
"Obviously companies are going to apply it fairly broadly to start with especially as they're developing their policies for it or as they're working their way through it. It's a pretty hefty fine that the federal government is levying if they are not following through and nobody wants to get caught in that trap," said Kerry Koonce with Iowa Workforce Development.
Companies violating the regulations can be fined up to $1 million a day, a risk most aren't willing to take. And while Eggers understands the reasoning behind the regulations, he doesn't believe he should be caught up in it.
"Very disgusted. I think that they are frivolously playing with people's lives," he said.
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