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Five Star Bank accuses Rochester restaurant operator of $18.9M check-kiting scheme

Five Star Bank is suing a local restaurant operator seeking to recover $18.9 million she allegedly stole in a check-kiting scheme.

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Katherine Mott owns Monroe’s in Pittsford, recently purchased Crescent Beach in Greece and operates several wedding venues in the area. The federal lawsuit also names her business partner, Robert Harris.

The complaint alleges that beginning in February, Mott passed checks between numerous business accounts at Five Star and elsewhere to artificially inflate balances in each. Five Star would record a deposit and pay out sums before the other institutions recorded the withdrawal and dishonored the checks for insufficient funds.

Five Star says it discovered the fraud during routine monitoring in early March, and has notified law enforcement. The bank stressed in a statement that there was no impact on other customers’ information or funds.

Mott, through a spokesperson, suggested this "may well be a series of business misunderstandings." The restaurant group continues to operate, and remains intent on reopening Crescent Beach this summer.

The lawsuit seeks a judgement equal to three times to damages Five Star claims it sustained.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.