Former credit union accountant convicted of embezzlement

A former credit union employee faces jail time. (Source: Shutterstock)

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick in San Francisco sentenced former Redwood Credit Union accounting director Stephanie Simontacchi to 29 months in federal prison on Thursday.

Simontacchi stole $437,162 from the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based financial cooperative from April 2016 to April 2019. Prior to joining RCU, Simontacchi worked as an accountant and assistant controller at Cavallo Point Lodge, a hotel near Sausalito, in California, where she also embezzled $384,363 from December 2009 to April 2016, according to federal prosecutors.

His scheme was to use RCU members’ cashier’s checks that were supposed to be voided, checks issued to RCU by his cashier’s check seller for processing, checks issued to RCU by the States Department of Treasury United to reimburse the credit union for the damaged currency. it replaced for its members, and checks issued to RCU by the State of California for sales tax refunds.

Simontacchi then changed the names of the payees of these checks by printing a new name – in particular, the names of his personal banks or that of a family member – and pasted the new payee names on the names of the payees of ‘origin. She then deposited the checks into her personal bank or credit card accounts. She also sent emails to RCU’s cashier’s check salesman to cover his tracks when discrepancies emerged.

RCU said it discovered the fraud in 2019 and quickly reported it to the police. No losses were suffered by RCU members due to the fraudulent activity, and the credit union said it has further strengthened its systems and processes to prevent future incidents of this nature.

Simontacchi pleaded guilty in February to one count of bank fraud, one count of embezzlement and embezzlement of credit union funds and one count of tax evasion.

In court documents, she wrote to Judge Orrick: “I understand that I have failed very much in the face of the frustrations of my own life. My failures as a professional and personal individual will always be an embarrassment to me and this scar will follow me throughout my adult life. I may not be able to change the past, but I am taking steps to do better in the future.

When confronted in 2019 by RCU over the fraud, she admitted her conduct, returned $206,991 she hadn’t spent and hatched a plan to repay the money, court documents show. . She agreed to a settlement with CUMIS Insurance, paid $80,000 and paid $1,000 a month thereafter. She received a foot injury settlement of $122,590 which she was prepared to return immediately and will be paid for restitution as soon as the parties finalize a proposed restitution order, Simontacchi’s attorney said in court documents.

His attorney added that Simontacchi’s crimes were caused, in part, because his judgment was hampered by drug addiction and unresolved mental health issues.

“She got sober and, through trial and error, found her way to compulsive theft therapy that helped her resolve her underlying issues,” her attorney wrote in court documents. “The story that led to her mental health issues and addiction does not excuse her serious and unlawful conduct, but it does provide a map showing how an otherwise hardworking, generous and loving mother and daughter who focused their lives about caring for others could have come to such a disastrous destination and why such behavior is unlikely to happen again.

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