Court Says CU Member Imprisoned 12 YearsIs Innocent

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CARSON CITY, Nev. - (02/03/06) – A federal appeals courtWednesday overturned a bad-checks conviction of a Nevada FCU memberimprisoned for 12 years, ruling she did time for “conductthat is not a crime.” The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals saidit is indisputable that Joni Goldyn bounced checks on her creditunion account, which she opened under an assumed name, but thecourt noted that Goldyn, a habitual gambler, also had a checkguarantee card, requiring the credit union to cover her checks. TheSan Francisco-based court said though Goldyn was charged withwriting bad checks the credit union was obligated to cover them andso “the bottom line is that the checks Goldyn wrote were notbad, and the merchants who accepted her checks were not injured;they were paid in full.” The credit union, said the court,could have tried to collect its money from Goldyn using debtcollection procedures to recover what amounted to a loan,“but failure to repay a loan is not a crime; the days ofimprisoning insolvent debtors are long gone,” said the court.Goldyn, the court said, might have been prosecuted for bank fraudfor misrepresenting herself to the credit union. Goldyn, now 59,was convicted of writing five bad checks on the Las Vegas creditunion and, because she had four previous fraud-related convictions,was sentenced to multiple life terms as a habitual criminal. Sheobtained early release in 2001 and placed on lifetime parole afterher lawyer said she reformed herself in prison, earning two collegedegrees and forming a Gamblers Anonymous group behindbars.

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