Former Arizona credit union CEO sentenced to prison for embezzlement

A former credit union CEO was sentenced to 26 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2.4 million in restitution for embezzlement, federal prosecutors said.

Susan Romero, 64, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Tuchi, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday. She worked for $17 million-asset Winslow Santa Fe Credit Union in Winslow, Arizona, for more than 30 years, mostly in leadership roles, including as manager, president and CEO.

Romero pleaded guilty in May 2021 to embezzlement of credit union funds.

Federal prosecutors said that during a routine audit, the credit union found discrepancies in the financial records. A subsequent investigation showed that Romero embezzled more than $2.2 million over the course of several years.

In her plea agreement, Romero admitted that she stole the money through unauthorized cash withdrawals, checks issued with forged signatures of other employees and transfers from the credit union account to her family members’ accounts.

She covered her tracks through false entries in the financial statements, such as falsifying the amount of cash stored in the vault and offsetting the stolen money with fictitious assets, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation.

Winslow Santa Fe Credit Union earned $105,000 in 2021, a 90% decrease compared to a year earlier, according to call report data from the National Credit Union Administration.

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