McALLEN — Over the course of more than eight years, Cynthia Luna Rodriguez stole more than $1 million and is now ordered to pay her victims back.

Rodriguez, a former employee of PlainsCapital Bank who admitted to stealing the funds from her own clients, last week begged for leniency from the court.

“I stand before you to take ownership. I’d like to apologize for causing stress on the victims; they didn’t deserve it,” an emotional Rodriguez said in front of U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez. “I am prepared to make the victims whole again — that’s why I ask for leniency.”

Alvarez, although acknowledging Rodriguez’s remorse, chided the 45-year-old woman for preying upon the elderly and the people who had entrusted her with their money, and for supplementing what the judge characterized as an “extravagant lifestyle,” shopping at high-end jewelry and clothing shops.

The judge also made note of the victims, who suffered in their own different ways — including one set of siblings who were forced to halt modifications to their homes designed to help them live more comfortably in their later years, and another man who lost his life insurance policy as a result of Rodriguez’s actions.

Rodriguez’s attorney, Fernando Mancias, attempted one last time to ask the court to consider a lack of direct evidence linking his client to the victims’ accounts in question, and argued that she made “dumb mistakes” as opposed to intentional criminal acts.

But Alvarez said she’d be inclined to believe Mancias if it were only a few isolated incidents, and instead found a willingness to commit the crimes when taking into account the entirety of Rodriguez’s actions.

Alvarez handed down an 85-month prison sentence for each of the three counts Rodriguez pleaded guilty to in January — two counts of bank fraud and one count of embezzlement — to run concurrently.

Rodriguez was also ordered to pay back more than $1.1 million to three victims, including more than $700,000 to her former employer, PlainsCapital Bank.

Restitution payments are set to begin 60 days after Rodriguez’s release from prison and will be set at $2,000 per month.

The judge noted that if not for her employer, First National Bank, being acquired by PlainsCapital Bank, her criminal activity may have never been discovered.

In its complaint against Rodriguez, the government alleges that beginning in at least January 2006, Rodriguez began taking money from customer accounts, specifically those of elderly persons and Mexican nationals living outside the country, without authorization while an employee with First National Bank in Edinburg. She continued to do so during the time PlainsCapital Bank took over First National Bank.

Rodriguez, after an unrelated internal investigation was concluded, was terminated from PlainsCapital Bank on Aug. 12, 2014, months after the

acquisition.

It wasn’t until after her firing that federal agents began looking into

Rodriguez.

“Following her termination, employees discovered documents at her desk, including a 1099 statement belonging to one of the victims,” according to a news release from U.S. Attorney’s Office. “The statement had been altered with whiteout over the address and interest earned sections and new information typed over them. The new address was actually a private mailbox that Rodriguez leased.”

Before Alvarez sentenced Rodriguez, the former bank employee said that through this experience, she had learned to focus on being a good mother and wife, devoting her time to her local church and working with the youth.

“I will work hard to make these wrongs, right,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, who had been on bond throughout the entirety of her case, requested, and the court granted, that she be allowed to self-surrender in the following weeks, so she could accompany her children to school, which is set to begin soon.

Rodriguez will also be required to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of her prison term.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Leonard prosecuted the case.