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Credit Union VP Admits to $1.2 Million Embezzlement.

Byline: Peter Strozniak

Had it not been for the actions of one Houston Police Federal Credit Union member, the credit union's retired executive might have gotten away with a $1.2 million embezzlement.

Cheryl Vickers, a former vice president of the $603 million, Houston-based credit union, pleaded guilty to one felony count of embezzlement in U.S. District Court in Houston Wednesday. She admitted to stealing more than $1.2 million over 18 years with unclaimed checks.

After Vickers retired in 2015, a credit union member brought in a stale check - an old check that had been issued by the credit union but never cashed. Credit union records, however, showed the check had already been reissued by Vickers, according to court documents.

That prompted the credit union to launch an audit of Vickers' banking activity, which revealed she had embezzled at least $1,247,785 since January 1997.

The credit union reviewed its ledger of stale checks, which showed Vickers reissued stale checks to credit card companies to pay her personal credit card bills.

The checks made payable to the credit card companies, some of which had Vickers' credit card number hand-written on them, were issued from an HPFCU account, according to court records.

Vickers reissued a stale check in the amount $7,800 to pay her Chase Bank credit card bill last February when she retired.

Last summer, HPFCU announced in a letter to members that its staff had detected the embezzlement during an audit on Aug. 6 and notified its board of directors and supervisory committee. The credit union also said it was working with the FBI on an investigation.

She was arrested and charged with embezzlement in December. At that time, she pleaded not guilty.

HPFCU said Vickers was in charge of accounting and information technology.

"Ms. Vickers possessed insider knowledge that helped her hide her alleged embezzlement," HPFCU said in December. "We believe the fact that she had extensive knowledge of the core data processing system and was a key contributor to the development of our internal controls gave her the ability to cover her tracks in our IT and accounting systems."

According to HPFCU's statement, its investigation determined approximately $1.2 million was stolen in "relatively small amounts over several years."

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Publication:Credit Union Times
Date:Jan 21, 2016
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