Former Pot Pres. Starts Prison Sentence for CU Fraud
The former president of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association will start his two-year prison sentence Thursday after he pleaded guilty to stealing more than $700,000 from a dozen credit unions and a bank.
In addition, Nicholas J. Saulsberry will be required to pay $737,573 in restitution, according to court documents.
From January 2014 to July 2016, Saulsberry, 30, created websites that claimed to be legitimate businesses that were seeking new employees. Job candidates filled out online employment applications that included their Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth and other personal information. Saulsberry used this information to open more than 100 credit or loan accounts at 13 financial institutions across the nation, according to federal prosecutors.
When the credit union or bank approved a loan or credit account, Saulsberry directed the financial institutions to send the debit or credit cards to addresses he controlled, which were locked mailboxes that he accessed with keys he made with a key-making device, according to court documents.
After receiving the debit or credit cards, he then used them to withdraw funds via ATMs. Over the web, he transferred funds from one account to another account in some instances.
Federal agents found more than $19,000 in cash including $2,000 in coin and crumpled bills that were scattered around his apartment floor, on countertops and in a garbage bag in Saulsberry’s car.
Although court documents in this case do not refer to the Oregon Cannabis Retailers Association or the Eugene marijuana store he was associated with, Saulsberry was quoted in a 2015 Yahoo finance news article about the challenges of running a pot shop. According to the article, Saulsberry claimed he invested about $400,000 in profits from his day trading activities into his marijuana store and complained that business had been sluggish.
Even though the OCRA acknowledged Saulsberry had been president of the organization, it severed ties with him once the criminal charges surfaced in June. OCRA had no involvement in the case.
The credit unions that were victimized by Saulsberry’s scheme, according to court documents, included the $11 billion First Tech FCU in Mountain View, Calif., the $360 million America’s Christian CU in Glendora, Calif., the $2.1 billion Chartway FCU in Virginia Beach, Va., the $1.7 billion Connexus CU in Wausau, Wis., the $10 million Generations FCU in LaPorte, Ind., the $2.2 billion NASA FCU in Upper Marlboro, Md., the $3.3 billion Northwest FCU in Herndon, Va., the $1.6 billion Oregon Community CU in Eugene, the $8.6 billion Randolph-Brooks FCU ins Live Oak, Texas, the $2.2 billion Stanford FCU in Palo Alto, Calif., the $1.8 billion State Department FCU in Alexandria, Va., and the $1 billion Unitus Community CU in Portland.
Saulsberry also targeted the $126 billion Regions Bank in Birmingham, Ala.