News and Press Releases

ARIEL WASHINGTON WOMAN SENTENCED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT
Assistant Manager of Ridgefiled IQ Credit Union Embezzled $60,000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2010

MICHELE L. CHARTIER, 26, of Ariel, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to seven months imprisonment, to be followed by two months of home detention. CHARTIER was employed at the IQ Credit Union, which has nine branch locations in Washington, from 2004 to 2009. CHARTIER was the Assistant Manager for IQ Credit Union's Ridgefield, Washington branch. Between the months of March 2009 and September 2009, CHARTIER embezzled $60,000 from the vault and from cash dispensing machines. She later tricked a customer into signing loan papers, and used the proceeds of the fraudulent loan to cover her embezzlement. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle imposed the sentence.

In July 2010, CHARTIER entered a guilty plea admitting to embezzlement. Investigation by an IQ auditor revealed the intricacies of CHARTIER’s embezzlement. By September of 2009, CHARTIER had embezzled at least $60,000 from the vault and from cash machines. Because she planned to take maternity leave in September 2009, she needed $60,000 to replace the money she had embezzled. To accomplish this, CHARTIER caused a $60,000 advance to be paid on a credit union customer’s Line of Credit. To further conceal her actions, CHARTIER created and filed a false Currency Transaction Report (CTR) in the customer’s name. Once she was on maternity leave, she tricked a coworker into causing a payment to be made, on the fraudulent line of credit, from the same unsuspecting customer’s money market account. The victim customer received computer-generated delinquency notices, so she began asking questions. CHARTIER tried to convince the customer that it was simply a computer glitch, but after several calls finally admitted that she had fraudulently taken out a loan in the customer’s name. According to the plea agreement, CHARTIER told the victims that she embezzled the money to pay for medical bills for her unborn child. At sentencing it was learned, however, that the money in fact went to pay for household expenses, including a mortgage.

At sentencing, two employees of the IQ Credit Union spoke on behalf of the Credit Union and its members. One read a letter from an employee who worked under CHARTIER, who wrote that she felt betrayed by the trust and support she had given to CHARTIER. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “Our banking system cannot function without trust. When you work inside a bank and commit the crime of embezzlement, the harm is far reaching and involves far more than the loss of money.” Assistant United States Attorney David Reese Jennings noted that CHARTIER’s scheme read like a movie plot. CHARTIER had set up her victims so they were on surveillance video, signing loan papers and receiving currency, and all internal and external documentation supported what the video seemed to show. Had the victims not persevered, it would have been nearly impossible for them to prove that they did not receive the money. In fact, the money had been taken by CHARTIER and used to cover up her systematic embezzlements.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Reese Jennings.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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