Branch Manager Loots Mayors' Accounts
A former Colorado credit union branch manager was sentenced July 7 to 60 days in a county jail, four years of probation and ordered to pay restitution and complete a drug rehab program.
Jessica Sorensen, 40, forged signatures of members at the $56 million Grand Junction Federal Credit Union for cash withdrawals and transfers to her own bank accounts, stealing more than $40,000, according to court documents.
Victims included former Aspen, Colo., mayor Mick Ireland, who reportedly lost almost $12,000, and former Marble, Colo., mayor John Anthony Petrocco, who had more than $20,000 stolen, according to court documents.
Sorensen was a branch manager at the 4,800-member credit union based in Grand Junction, Colo., according to her LinkedIn profile.
She allegedly focused on dormant accounts. To cover her tracks, she sometimes put money back into the accounts right before the quarterly reporting period, and changed member addresses and telephone numbers so that statements and calls from the credit union would not be received, the court documents said.
Prosecutors urged the judge to consider that Sorensen planned her crimes over a long period of time, abused the trust of the community and stole a substantial amount of money from 2012 until July 2013, according to court documents.
The fraud was exposed after Sorensen approved a $50,000 loan for herself, the court records said.
She issued a check and deposited it into her son’s account at the credit union, according to police reports.
Those actions prompted the credit union to launch an investigation, court records said.
Sorenson pled guilty to three felony charges in May. Four other felony charges and 17 misdemeanor counts of forgery were dropped as part of a plea agreement.
She was ordered to pay restitution to the credit union and its insurer, which could be almost $60,000 with interest, according to court documents.
When Sorensen was arrested in August, she blamed her lack of judgment on substance abuse, including a cocaine addiction, but she has enrolled in a drug treatment program, the court said.
During her sentencing, the judge agreed the fraud was not “a run-of-the-mill theft,” but sentenced Sorensen to county jail and four years of probation because it was her first criminal offense.
Since Sorensen had made an effort to rehabilitate, the judge allowed her to serve the two months as work release. She will have to remain in jail each night, but can leave during the day for a job or treatment program, according to the court order.
The convicted forger was also ordered to write letters of apology, and undergo a substance and alcohol abuse evaluation and random drug tests, the court documents said.