Former credit union president sentenced to federal prison for embezzlement

Staff writerMarch 20, 2014 

The former president of a Tacoma credit union was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in federal prison for embezzlement.

Renee J. Thomas, a 45-year-old Graham resident, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of misapplication of credit union funds, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle reported.

Federal prosecutors said Thomas used the credit union's resources to commit disability fraud, stole from customers' lines of credit and forged an employee's signature to increase the limit on her company credit card.

Thomas used the ill-gotten funds to pay her bills and other expenses, court records show.

"As Community Credit Union's president, Thomas owed the credit union one thing -- responsible stewardship," federal prosecutor Arlen Storm wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Instead, she gave it a two-year fraud spree, targeting as her victims the credit union, its customers and its insurance carrier."

Thomas resigned in 2009 just as state authorities were about to begin an investigation of the credit union because they were concerned about its financial performance, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported.

Thomas' attorney, Keith Hall, asked for home confinement for Thomas, saying she suffers from a number of health issues that could not be adequately treated in prison. Thomas takes responsibility for her crimes, Hall added in his sentencing memorandum

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton sided with prosecutors, deciding Thomas should do some prison time.

"This crime is very serious because it is the type of crime that corrodes faith in our financial system," Leighton said.


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