Members and Assistant Manager Charged in Loan Fraud Ring
The former assistant manager and four members – including two police officers – were charged Thursday with conspiracy and bank fraud after allegedly stealing from the $40 million Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union in Scranton, Pa.
The indictments come just five months after Manager Jim Payne fatally shot himself at his Bear Creek, Pa., home in March. At that time, public reports surfaced he was potentially being targeted in an FBI investigation.
The accused are Amanda Magda, 30, the former credit union’s assistant manager, and members Jason Anthony, 34, a Wilkes-Barre city police officer, Tino Ninotti, 35, a former Wilkes-Barre city police officer, Jeffrey Serafin, 25, and Leo Glodzik, 43, a Wilkes-Barre city contractor.
The indictments, unsealed Thursday, allege the “defendants, individually or by aiding and abetting one another, secured loans from the credit union by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, including the use of false collateral, the stolen identities of others who were not aware of loans in their names, and forgery.”
Glodzik was also charged with tampering with a witness.
Prosecutors did not release how many credit union loans or the total amount of loans that had been fraudulently obtained by the defendants.
Carrie Adamowski, an FBI spokesperson in Philadelphia, confirmed to CUTimes a statement reported by local media that Sean Quinn, director of the FBI’s Scranton office, said he “considered the credit union as a witness and a victim in an ongoing criminal investigation. Individual employees of the credit union were potential targets of the investigation.”
Adamowski also confirmed that Quinn told a local news site that he believed what he called “corruption” led to Payne’s death.
Deborah N. Peters is currently listed as the manger of Wilkes-Barre City Employees FCU, which serves 2,285 members.
U.S. Attorney Peter Smith in Scranton said the charges represented a significant step in an ongoing corruption investigation by the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Four of the defendants appeared Thursday before Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick in federal court in Wilkes-Barre.
Ninotti, Anthony and Glodzik were released from custody and ordered to report to pretrial services. Glodzik was also ordered to surrender his passport. Serafin was released on his own recognizance, according to federal prosecutors.
The hearing for Magda was expected to take place later on Thursday, according to a prepared statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
If convicted, the defendants could face up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
The Payne incident was the second such suicide reported since April 2013.
John C. DuPree Jr., volunteer manager of the $2.4 million Shiloh of Alexandria Federal Credit Union, committed suicide on April 4, 2013. The following day, the cooperative was closed by the NCUA, which determined the credit union was insolvent and had no prospect for restoring viable operations.
An NCUA investigation discovered a suicide note on DuPree’s credit union computer, which stated that he had been “stealing money from Shiloh Credit Union for several years now” and “betrayed the trust that everyone placed in me.”