News and Press Releases

credit union manager sentenced for embezzling $400,000

November 3, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Claycomo, Mo., woman was sentenced in federal court today for embezzling nearly $400,000 from the credit union where she was employed as a branch manager.

Joyce Buchanan, 56, of Claycomo, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright to two years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Buchanan to pay $406,151 in restitution.

On May 7, 2010, Buchanan pleaded guilty to theft from a credit institution and bank fraud. Buchanan was the branch manager at Media First Credit Union (now First Financial Credit Union), which serves employees of The Kansas City Star and is located in the Kansas City Star building at 1729 Grand, Kansas City, Mo. Buchanan admitted that, while she was employed by the credit union between Dec. 9, 2002, and Jan. 16, 2007, she embezzled $198,250.

Buchanan also admitted that, during the same period of time, she engaged in a scheme to defraud Media First Credit Union. Buchanan falsely represented to the credit union that legitimate loans totaling $198,553 were made to individuals. In reality, however, Buchanan made the loans payable to herself in the form of cash and checks that she was not entitled to receive.

According to court documents, in addition to the embezzlement, Buchanan made a total of $426,678 in loans to non-members, in strict violation of the credit union’s policy. Of the loans Buchanan made to non-members, $268,115 have defaulted. The majority of the fraudulent loans were referrals from her son, who worked for First Financial Lending Group.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Mahoney. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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