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CU System briefs (01/24/2012)

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  • BRUNSWICK, Maine (1/25/12)--Marsha Richard, 42, of Topsham, Maine, was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison for embezzling more than $500,000 from Atlantic Regional FCU, Brunswick, Maine (Sun Journal Jan. 23) from November 2004 to October 2010.  U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby sentenced Richard to 33 months in prison and five years of probation. She pleaded guilty Sept. 23 to the charge. Richard allegedly manipulated account entries for credit union members' deposited checks that had been returned for nonsufficient funds. Instead of crediting an internal account, Richard credited the accounts of family and friends then accessed the diverted money …
  • SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (1/25/12)--Tips from the public yielded an arrest in the robbery Friday of Assemblies of God CU, Springfield, Mo., said police ( Jan. 23). Paulanthony Rossmann II, 28, of Springfield, allegedly a member of the credit union, was arrested Saturday and charged with bank robbery. According to police, a man entered the credit union, presented a teller with a demand note, indicated he had a gun, and said that "this is not a joke." The man fled with $4,728. After viewing surveillance photos on local media, a tipster said a backpack carried by the robber was the same as those given away at a volleyball coaches conference and that it had a red and blue emblem. Rossmann's estranged wife also identified the backpack as his …
  • KALAMAZOO, Mich. (1/25/12)--Consumers CU, a $368 million asset credit union based in Kalamazoo, Mich., has launched a member testimonial campaign designed to tell its story one member at a time.  The campaign, Good Times Ahead, underscores that members own the credit union and that many people are celebrating success in West Michigan. "We are asking members to tell us their stories and are thrilled with the response," said Kit Snyder, president/CEO.  Members featured include Jeremiah from South Haven, who talks about Seriously Free Checking; Thomas and Diedre from Holland, discussing Silver Lining Lending; Rick from Holland, talking about Credit Card Balance Transfers; Alex from Kalamazoo, discussing Student Accounts; and Theresa from Kalamazoo, talking about Business Services. Consumers CU worked with local companies to produce the campaign. Partners include Motion Possible, which filmed on location; 2Fish Co., which provided photography; and South Post Studios, which produced audio for radio.  Also, Western Michigan University students wrote, sang, and provided instrumental portions of the music …

24 CU pros named to Catalyst Councils

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PLANO, Texas (1/25/12)--Catalyst Corporate FCU in Plano, Texas, named 24 credit union professionals to serve as members of two of its three newly formed Catalyst Councils.

"Settling on a slate of participants from a pool of highly qualified candidates proved challenging, but we were guided by our promise to ensure diversity--in asset size, geography and areas of expertise," said Dianne Addington, Catalyst Corporate president/CEO.

Catalyst Corporate first announced its plans to form Catalyst Councils in September and began recruiting applicants during its fall conferences. The councils will help channel member feedback into the corporate's decision-making process and will meet four times annually to discuss products, service levels and strategic initiatives.

The corporate has finalized participants for the Eastern Regional Catalyst Council and the Central Regional Catalyst Council. The application process for the Western Regional Council was extended to allow credit unions in that region to apply following the December announcement that Catalyst Corporate had won the bid to acquire the operations of Western Bridge Corporate FCU.

The Central Regional Catalyst Council members are:

  • Lisa Coen, comptroller, Oklahoma Employees CU, Oklahoma City, Okla.;
  • Kathi M. Gill, president/CEO, Neighbors FCU, Baton Rouge, La.;
  • Karyn Gonyea, vice president, Union Pacific of Arkansas, North Little Rock, Ark.
  • Linda Jeffery, president/CEO, TruService Community FCU, Little Rock, Ark.;
  • Jared Johnstone, vice president/Deposit Operations & Business Services, Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah;
  • Keith Kearney, president/CEO, InvesTex CU, Houston;
  • Kim Troy Kyle, chief information officer, Capital CU, Austin, Texas;
  • Derrick Peterson, senior vice president/chief financial officer, Greater Texas FCU, Austin, Texas;
  • Drew Schmid, executive vice president/chief financial officer, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Live Oak, Texas;
  • Andrea Stocks, chief operating officer, A+ FCU, Austin, Texas;
  • Marty Tressell, president/CEO, High Plains FCU, Clovis, N.M.; and
  • Diane Ward, chief financial officer, Bossier FCU, Bossier City, La.

The Eastern Regional Catalyst Council members are:

  • Brian Akin, president/CEO, North Georgia CU, Toccoa, Ga.;
  • Tim Bridges, executive vice president/chief financial oficer, Associated CU, Norcross, Ga.;
  • Sean Ferrell, associate vice president/controller, LGE Community CU, Marietta, Ga.;
  • Kevin Hill, vice president/chief financial officer, Five Star CU, Dothan, Ala.;
  • Walter Hobby, chief financial officer, CDC FCU, Atlanta;
  • Beverly Knutsen, senior vice president, Augusta (Ga.) Metro FCU;
  • Gary Kyle, chief financial officer, Atlanta Postal CU;
  • Maggie Martinez, president/CEO, South Florida FCU, Miami;
  • Keith Pritchard, CEO, Georgia-Florida United Methodist FCU, Marietta, Ga.;
  • Issa Stephan, president/CEO, First Financial FCU, Wall, N.J.;
  • Mary Svoboda, senior vice president/chief operating officer, Jax FCU, Jacksonville, Fla.; and
  • Sam Whitehurst, president/CEO, Summit CU, Greensboro, N.C.

Alabama storm damages CU

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (1/25/12)--A tornado that touched down in Alabama Monday ripped a large portion of the roof off the main branch of Secure First CU in Birmingham, Ala., and also did structural damage to the drive-thru, second floor and front entrances. The credit union is closed.

A tornado that touched down in Alabama Monday ripped a large portion of the roof off the main branch of Secure First CU in Birmingham, Ala., and also did some structural damage to the drive-thru, second floor and front entrances. (Photo provided by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions)

Click to view larger image
Secure First has two other branches--one in Birmingham and one in Brookwood, Ala.

"Thus far, no employees at Secure First have been displaced. They were just unable to come out of their homes yesterday due to debris and surface damage," Amy Jowers, director of information services for the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, told News Now.

"We are picking up a mobile branch today and will deliver it to Secure First on Thursday. The mobile branch is owned by Pen Air FCU [in Pensacola, Fla.] They are lending it to Secure First to use until things are back up and running."

A press report that an employee of the $379 million asset Secure First CU lost a home in the tornado isn't true, Jowers added. Secure First CEO Jordan Sullivan said Tuesday afternoon that no employees lost their homes.

However, Birmingham-based Legacy Community FCU employees have had some tremendous losses, Jowers said. No specifics were available at press time.  Everyone still seems to be in the assessment stage, Jowers said.

The tornado destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes, leaving two people dead. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with winds estimated at 150 mph touched down near the town of Clay, Ala., early Monday. The storm destroyed at least 211 homes and seriously damaged another 218, according to the American Red Cross in Alabama ( Jan. 24).

Seven Alabama counties reported damage from the storm, with most occurring in Jefferson and Chilton counties. Five schools still were closed Tuesday in Jefferson County, including one that will have to be razed, said

UVA Community CU sponsors IBizKidI on public TV

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (1/25/12)--UVA Community CU in Charlottesville, Va., is helping to bring BizKid$, a financial education television series, to the Greater Charlottesville area each Saturday morning on public television by sponsoring the show.

Launched in January 2008, BizKid$: Helping Kids Make and Manage Money, is a national financial education initiative to inform, educate, inspire and motivate kids of all ages to learn about money, credit, taxes, business and becoming young entrepreneurs. To keep young viewers (9-16 years old) engaged, the series includes a mix of direct education, sketch comedies, animation and stories featuring real-life young entrepreneurs.

"As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, we are committed to improving the financial literacy of our community's residents so they may reach their financial goals," said Alison DeTuncq, president/CEO of UVA Community CU. "Youth education, in particular, is a big part of our financial education program. This show compliments our student-run branch program initiative and our frequent in-class presentations conducted for students of all ages."

Each show is complemented by resources on a website, lesson plans, outreach activities and a monthly electronic newsletter. Topics covered include "The Economics of Economics," "Take It to The Bank," "Businesses Going Green," and "What to Do with a Windfall."

BizKid$  also has received the status of "recommended educational resource" by the state boards of education in Virginia, Florida, California, Illinois, Iowa, Idaho, Wisconsin and Texas.

Condo developer indicted for fraud on CU loan apps

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (1/25/12)--A condo developer has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska,  on charges that he lied and cheated on credit union loans connected with  several construction projects, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.

The charges are one of a number of cases filed across the nation by the U.S. Justice Department targeting lenders, contractors, financial managers and others who contributed to the U.S. housing market collapse  in the nation's financial crisis, said the office.

Lee Baker Jr., 55, is accused in the 14-count indictment of misleading Denali Alaskan FCU in several loan transactions in 2005. Baker is known for building "site condos," developments where inexpensive houses are crowded onto small land parcels with inadequate road access, said prosecutors (The News Tribune Jan. 21 and Jan. 23).

The charges in the indictments include:

  • Allegedly creating a series of land-sales transactions to obtain a loan from the credit union under false pretenses for buying and developing Lake View Estates in Wasilla. Court documents alleged he transferred the estates property from his company, Discovery Construction, to himself and then back to his company, and sought to finance what he allegedly termed a legitimate deal with the credit union. However, the indictment charges, he allegedly used the money to reduce his shareholder debt to the construction company.
  • Allegedly lying to the credit union, saying he had completed 12 stages of an East Anchorage apartment project related to a $9.2 million construction loan and acquiring part of the loan with each claim. Prosecutors alleged little work had been done on the project.
  • Allegedly engaging in money laundering by paying a subcontractor one a different project out of the funds for the apartment complex project.
Baker eventually defaulted on the loan, said the prosecutors,  and in 2008, the credit union joined other creditors and contractors in suing the developer, alleging fraud. The credit union sought to recover $16 million in delinquent loans.

White paper highlights best practices in lifestyle lending

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COSTA MESA, Calif. (1/25/12)--MeridianLink will release a white paper, "Best Practices in Lifestyle Lending," focusing on the success of two Utah credit unions.

Lifestyle loans are loans designed to enhance a member's lifestyle, and can include loans for cosmetic surgery, dental work, heating and air conditioning or musical instruments.

The white paper, to be released in February, includes feedback and information from community business providers that offer their customers and patients financing through lifestyle lending at the two credit unions.

  1. Work with a lifestyle program and a system that is easy to understand and use and has a track record of success.
  1. Designate one individual or a department within the credit union to manage the program.
  1. Establish a strong group of core providers within the community.
  1. Suggest that providers include the phrase, "Financing Available" on their websites and in their advertising.
  1. Be sure providers have the necessary materials to market the program to their customers and patients.
  1. Build strong relationships with providers. Respond quickly to concerns and questions.
MeridianLink, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a provider of enterprise business solutions for financial service organizations.

CU execs Red Tail Guitar tells WWII story

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MADISON, Wis. (1/25/12)--A credit union executive has a connection with the subject of a film released Friday. "Red Tails" tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American aviators in the U.S. armed forces.

Dan Wagner, chief financial officer and manager of Lisbon Farmer Union CU, Lisbon, N.D., built The Red Tail Guitar to commemorate the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American aviators in the U.S. armed forces. (Photo provided by Dan Wagner)
Before the Tuskegee Airmen battled the Germans in the European theatre, they had to overcome racism within their own military.

Long before "Red Tails" hit theatres, Dan Wagner, chief financial officer and manager of Lisbon Farmer Union CU, Lisbon, N.D., helped share the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, who officially were the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Wagner designed and built the custom "Red Tail Guitar" in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen. The guitar includes parts from the P-51 Mustang, the aircraft most commonly associated with Tuskegee Airmen.

"I want everything I build to mean something," said Wagner, who has built several guitars. "This guitar tells the story about overcoming adversity."

The parts for the guitar were supplied by the Commemorative Air Force, an organization founded to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition combat aircraft which were flown by U.S. military services, and aircraft of other nations.

In 2009, he presented the guitar to the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles Program with Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee, who flew more than 400 combat missions for the U.S. Army Air Corps.

EAA Young Eagles is a program that provides children ages 8 to 17 an opportunity to fly in a general aviation airplane.

The program is special to Wagner. He wanted to learn to fly as a child, but couldn't afford lessons. "It's a program that literally makes dreams come true," Wagner said.

The Red Tail Guitar was auctioned for $5,000. The money was used to sponsor Young Eagle memberships. At $10 per membership, the money will sponsor 500 Young Eagle memberships, Wagner said.

Wagner said building the Red Tail Guitar, telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and, more specifically, working with groups such as EAA and the Commemorative Air Force, reminded him of his daily work with credit unions.

"Every step of the way, somebody was willing to help," Wagner said. "That's what made the experience so gratifying."

Small Biz Authority to ICNBCI Raise MBL cap

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NEW YORK (1/25/12)--The CEO/chairman of a CUNA Strategic Services provider, The Small Business Authority, touted raising credit unions' member business loans as a way to ease the nation's credit crunch in an article Tuesday on

Barry Sloane,  CEO/chairman of the The Small Business Authority, which is powered by Newtek, was among members of CNBC's Small Business Council to be asked what they hoped to hear during the president's State of the Union address to the nation Tuesday night.

Sloane outlined three topics small business owners are concerned with, including reducing the deficit and reducing government regulation. The third concern among small business owners was the need to "ease the credit crunch," he told

One way to do that would be to allow credit unions to increase the cap on what credit unions can loan commercially, he said. He noted that if the cap is increased, the nation would have $13 billion more available nationally to lend to small business.

The Credit Union National Association and credit unions have been pressing for Congress to raise the member business lending limit to 27.5% of assets from the current 12.25% of assets.  Doing so would mean $13 billion available to lend to small business owners.  Injecting that amount into the economy would create roughly 140,000  new jobs at no cost to the taxpayer.

Young professionals have until Feb. 17 to Crash Illinois

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (1/25/12)--Credit union professionals age 30 or younger will have the opportunity to "crash" the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) 82nd Annual Convention April 26-28.

Crash Illinois is limited to 15 people. The deadline for applications Feb. 17 .Crash attendees will be announced during the week of Feb. 20, said the league.

This initiative is part of The Cooperative Trust (formerly The Crash Network), a grassroots organization comprised of hundreds of young credit union professionals.

Sponsored by ICUL and CUNA Mutual Group, Crash Illinois will allow young credit union professionals to participate in the event by attending the full convention and additional mentor sessions with industry thought leaders and to build relationships with other young credit union professionals. After a crasher welcome on Thursday before the Annual Convention kick-off, other sessions and a lunch will be held for the group.

Brent Dixon, young adult adviser at the Filene Research Institute is the founder of The Cooperative Trust. At the ICUL Convention, Dixon will present two sessions: "Attracting and Retaining Younger Members" and "Design Thinking: A Human Centered Approach to Innovation."

Connie Payton, wife of the late football legend Walter Payton, will be event's keynote speaker.

HomeTown FCU opens Minn.s first student branch

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/25/12)--Owatonna, Minn.-based HomeTown FCU opened Minnesota's first-of-its-kind student branch and held its grand opening Jan. 18 at Owatonna High School, according to the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).

The first of its kind in Minnesota, HomeTown FCU's student branch celebrated its grand opening at Owatonna (Minn.) High School on Jan. 18. It is operated by (beginning second from left) student Seth Stoykovich, HomeTown FCU manager David Dorsett, and student Abdul Mahamud. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
The credit union worked with teachers, the school board and school administrators for the past five years to make the new student branch a reality. The branch, which opened at the beginning of the school year, is operated by student workers and supervised by a manager at the credit union.

Although the in-school branch opening is a milestone, the more important aspect is the financial literacy teaching tool it provides, said MnCUN.  Marian Murphy, vice president of business growth, and other HomeTown FCU staff gave presentations over the years on financial topics to high school business classes. The branch will add another way for the credit union to make an educational impression.

"We really pushed the financial literacy component when we proposed this idea [for the branch]," said Murphy. "Financial education is not a requirement in Minnesota schools, but just having a student branch can help spark their interest in financial education."

The high school's marketing classes use the branch to create advertising campaigns about the importance of students investing and saving for the future. The school plans for art students to create a concept for a mural outside the branch office to encourage financial literacy.

The branch also promotes a weekly trivia game that offers students a small incentive for stopping by the branch office. "We're training students to come to the branch. If we can get them there, we can talk to them and teach them about what we do," Murphy said.

David Dorsett, the credit union's new youth education supervisor, oversees students' work at the branch and helps lead classes on topics such as saving, budgeting, credit, information security and loan applications. The branch is equipped to handle opening new accounts, processing checking and savings account transactions and providing account maintenance.

The branch is open to students and faculty at the school from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. It conducts more than 200 transactions per month, and, depending on demand, may increase its hours later. The credit union also has a long-term goal of having students develop and implement a business plan for the office.

CU House calls for Hall of Leaders nominations

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WASHINGTON (1/25/12)--The Credit Union House is calling for nominations for its prestigious Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Nominations are due by Feb. 17.

The Hall of Leaders provides lasting recognition for credit union leaders whose commitment has made a significant impact on the credit union movement at the local, state, or national level, according to its year-end 2011 Credit Union House Highlights From the Hill newsletter.

Those selected for the honor have shown commitment that inspires others in the credit union movement. Inductees include board chairmen, league presidents, credit union CEOs, league board members and volunteers.

Nomination forms must be in by Feb. 17 for recognition at the Credit Union National Association's upcoming Governmental Affairs Conference, March 18-22 in Washington, D.C. They can be obtained on Credit Union House's website and sent to:

Credit Union House

403 C St. NE

Washington, D.C. 20002

Credit Union House is a townhouse in Washington, D.C., owned by every state credit union trade association and AACUL. It was built primarily for credit unions and credit union groups throughout the nation as a coordination center on Capitol Hill and is considered a symbol of the strength and permanence of the credit union movement on the national scene.

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