Credit Union Cheats Face Charges, Sentencing
Jessica Vidal, a former member services representative, and Connie Ortiz, former assistant branch manager, were indicted last week for embezzling more than $51,000 from the $423 million Pima Federal Credit Union in Tucson, Ariz.
Vidal was charged with 21 felony counts of bank fraud and aggravated identify theft, which she allegedly committed while she worked at PFCU as a member services representative who assisted members with loan applications.
From July 2010 to July 2013, Vidal allegedly fraudulently obtained cash withdrawals from eight member accounts, according to an indictment. Vidal also was accused by prosecutors by fraudulently obtaining loans by opening new accounts using the names and Social Security number of members.
She allegedly used some of the stolen funds to buy a GMC truck. Vidal also prevented members from receiving their account statements by altering account information by changing their addresses or using her credit union email address on a member’s account to misdirect communications.
Ortiz, who worked as a PFCU assistant branch manager, allegedly covered up Vidal’s fraud scheme in April 2012. Court documents also show two days after Vidal was fired by the credit union on July 29, 2013, Ortiz removed $7,000 in loan funds from a member’s account, which had been fraudulently obtained earlier by Vidal.
Meanwhile in other fraud cases, Guerryson Torres of Tampa Fla., was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of nearly $1 million for defrauding the $1.6 billion GTE FCU in Tampa and the $1.9 billion Grow Financial CU in Tampa.
Guerryson Torres, 50, admitted to conspiring with others to defraud GTEFCU and Grow Financial CU. He owned a company that sold cars and boats that had been repossessed by the credit unions; Torres admitted that he submitted fake invoices underreporting the real sales price of vehicles and pocketed the difference.
Torres also sold 77 cars for GTEFCU but never paid the credit union, according to court documents. Torres was ordered to pay restitution to the credit unions totaling $973,486.
Dominque Avery of Portsmouth, Va., was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $197,0000 for participating in a bank fraud scheme that targeted the $58.1 billion Navy FCU in Virginia, Va., and the $420 million ABNB FCU in Chesapeake, Va.
Sentenced in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va., Avery, 20, stole or purchased the identities of other people to apply for online checking and savings accounts at Navy and ABNB, and three other financial institutions.
Avery caused a third-party check issuing service to send dozens of fraudulent checks to various vendors and individuals. He was arrested in August 2012 while attempting to buy two checks with fraudulent ABNB checks, according to prosecutors.
Although Avery was ordered to pay restitution of more than $197,000, the total intended losses were $737,000, prosecutors said.