NCUA bans three former credit union employees

NCUA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Three former credit union employees, including a CEO who stole millions from an Arizona credit union, have been barred from participating in the business of any insured financial institution, the NCUA announced Tuesday.

Susan Irene Romero is set to begin her 26-month federal prison sentence on June 24 after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $2 million from the $17.9 million Winslow Santa Fe Credit Union in Winslow, Arizona, according to Federal Court records.

She was ordered to pay restitution of $1,340,000 to the credit union and $1,020,000 to Stuart-Lippman & Associates, a collection agency based in Tucson, Arizona. Romero admitted to using several methods to steal money from the credit union, including unauthorized cash withdrawals, transfers to accounts associated with family members, and checks issued by the WSFCU using false signatures.

The former leader even used her grandson’s bank account to launder some of the stolen money and she also facilitated bad loans to family members, prosecutors say. Court documents showed a “significant portion” of the stolen funds was channeled to support a “struggling medical practice” by Romero’s daughter.

Within 30 days of being fired in May 2019, Romero sold his house and his daughter sold the building that housed his medical office. Yet none of those proceeds were used to compensate the WSFCU, the credit union’s board noted in a letter to a federal judge who sentenced Romero in March.

Diamond Hamilton of Tampa, Fla., and co-conspirators set up a scheme to steal funds from $15.3 billion Suncoast Credit Union member accounts in Tampa from May 2019 to August 2019. Court documents did not identify Hamilton’s job title.

His role in the fraudulent scheme was to access members’ account information, change members’ online passwords and add email addresses to their accounts belonging to one of the co-conspirators, according to sources. court documents. She then withdrew funds from members’ accounts and transferred that money to the Suncoast account of Diamond or other co-conspirators.

Hamilton was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison in May 2021. She is expected to be released in December, according to the Bureau of Federal Prisons.

She was ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution.

According to the NCUA, Vanessa Fletcher, a former employee of the $10.8 billion Alaska USA Federal Credit Union in Anchorage, allegedly used a member’s debit card to make four purchases totaling $181.69 dollars.

She neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing, the consent order showed.

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