United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Former Credit Union President Sentenced To Prison For Fraud And Embezzlement Scheme
Falsified Documents and Stole from Customer Credit Accounts
The former president of a small Pierce County, Washington credit union was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and more than $129,000 in restitution for two counts of wire fraud and two counts of misapplication of credit union funds, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. RENEE J. THOMAS, 45, of Graham, Washington, resigned as president of Community Credit Union on September 1, 2009, just as state authorities were preparing to examine the credit union because of concern about its financial performance. Following her resignation, the investigation revealed THOMAS had used a variety of means to defraud not only the credit union but an insurance company and credit card companies associated with it. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said, “this crime is very serious because it is the type of crime that corrodes faith in our financial system.”
According to records in the case, THOMAS committed fraud and embezzled funds in four different schemes. In 2007 THOMAS pressured an employee to falsify records related to nearly $90,000 in car loans so that she and her husband could collect disability insurance. In December 2007, THOMAS used a credit union customer’s information to take money from his line of credit. THOMAS applied the $16,500 to her bills. In August of 2009, shortly before her departure from the credit union, THOMAS forged other employees’ names to increase the limit on her company credit card. THOMAS used the increased borrowing authority for $22,000 in cash advances and other purchases. Finally, on one of her last days at the credit union, THOMAS used other employees’ computer privileges to increase a customer’s line of credit and take cash from their account. She then used some of the cash to make a payment on her credit card. The loss to the credit union for the conduct charged in the case is $126,469.
In asking for a prison sentence prosecutors wrote to the court, “As Community Credit Union’s President, Thomas owed the credit union one thing – responsible stewardship. Instead, she gave it a two-year fraud “spree,” targeting as her victims, the Credit Union, its customers, and its insurance carrier. Rather than watching out for the interest of her employees, moreover, Thomas abused her authority over them and involved them in her criminal schemes.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlen Storm.