Banking & Finance and Law

Credit union executive gets jail time

January 5, 2016
| By AP |
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A woman who stole nearly $2 million while advancing from teller to chief executive at a western Michigan credit union was sentenced to federal prison this week.

When handing down a 78-month sentence, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell noted that Kathryn Sue Simmerman's embezzlement over more than a decade wasn't related to a family crisis or a sick child.

“I don’t get anything like that here,” Bell said. “I get cruises, I get pickup trucks, I get boats.”

Simmerman, 55, worked at Shoreline Federal Credit Union in Norton Shores, near Muskegon. Her thefts included $319,000 in 2014. Investigators said she deposited cash into accounts held by family members and cooked the books to fool auditors.

“I stole a lot of money, and I knew it was very wrong, and I was not raised that way,” Simmerman told the judge.

In a court filing, prosecutors said “misplaced trust” by others at the credit union contributed to Simmerman’s ability to steal so much money without getting caught earlier.

Many co-workers felt “sheer disbelief of what she did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler said.

Defense attorney Don Davis, a former prosecutor, acknowledged that Simmerman stole a “jaw-dropping” amount of money. Insurance covered 70 percent of the credit union's loss.

Bell ordered her to jail while she awaits placement in a prison, rejecting a request to have Simmerman report later.

“She did a very bad thing,” Davis said. “But she is not a bad person.”

The credit union, 40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids, serves 4,100 members.

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