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When Pamela O’Connell took the helm at Heartland Credit Union eight years ago, she was faced with a lot of angry, frustrated and betrayed employees.

In 2000, the $79 million, St. Paul, Minn.-credit union was in the final investigatory stage of an embezzlement case involving O’Connell’s predecessor, according to NCUA records. Staffers had grown close to the CEO, who had been with Heartland for 20 years, O’Connell said. At the same time, collections were at an all-time high and the loan portfolio was in disarray, overwhelming the one staffer responsible for overseeing it.

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