Credit Union CEO Gets 18 Months in Prison
A federal judge on March 20 sentenced Renee J. Thomas, former president/CEO of the merged $12 million Community Credit Union in Pierce County, Wash., to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
In addition, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton ordered Thomas, 45, to pay $129,000 in restitution.
Thomas pleaded guilty in December to two felony counts of misapplication of credit union funds and two felony counts of wire fraud, according to court documents.
Thomas served as the president/CEO of Community CU from March 2007 until she resigned in September 2009, just as state authorities were preparing to examine the credit union because of concerns of its financial performance.
An investigation revealed Thomas used a variety of means to defraud not only the credit union but an insurance company and credit card companies associated with it, according to federal prosecutors.
In February 2010, the credit union merged with the $882 million TwinStar Credit Union in Lacey, Wash.
Thomas misapplied credit union funds by using an employee and the Social Security number of a credit union member to create a $16,500 loan advance in December 2007. She then used those funds to pay off debt she held with a Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines credit card and to install a new furnace in her home, according to court documents.
She also used a credit union employee to fraudulently obtain disability insurance from CUNA Mutual Insurance against a $34,000 Community CU auto loan she and her husband used to buy a Mercedes E320 Sport, and another Community CU $40,000 auto loan she and her husband used purchase a Hummer H2 in March 2007.
Court records show she falsely claimed that a credit union employee mistakenly entered a code into the computer that showed Thomas and her husband elected not to take out the loan disability insurance on the auto loan. Thomas also made this false claim knowing that her husband could not qualify for the loan disability insurance because of his pre-existing condition.
In August 2009, Thomas again misapplied credit union funds by using an employee and a member to create a $4,000 line of credit to pay off debt she had on a Community CU credit card.
Thomas also fraudulently increased her credit line on her Community CU credit card from $35,000 to $50,000 and obtained more than $18,000 in cash advances in August and September 2009.