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Loan Growth Strong At CUs

MADISON, Wis.-Credit unions reported a strong 1% growth in their loan portfolios in July, bringing year-to-date loan growth to 4.04%, slightly higher than last year's 3.86% for the same period, according to CUNA. Savings fell by 0.6% during the month, bringing savings growth for the first seven months of the year to 7.05%, down from 9.8% through July of last year.

July was both the high-water mark for loan growth this year and the low-water mark for savings growth, according to Bill Hampel, chief economist for CUNA.

The drop in savings, falling mostly to share drafts, which saw a 6.3% decline during the month, was due mainly to the fact that July had just four paydays, according to Hampel. Home equity loans led loan growth, expanding by 3.2%; while used car loans rose 1.4%; credit card loans by 1.2%; and adjustable-rate first mortgages by 0.9%.

Mortgages Cut Losses At H&R Block

KANSAS CITY, Mo.-Tax preparers H&R Block Inc. reported strong earnings in its mortgage loan operations helped trim first quarter losses to $9.5 million, or five cents a share, from a loss of $30.8 million, or 17 cents a share, for the first quarter last year.

The company typically reports a first-quarter loss because of the seasonal nature of its core tax preparation business. Revenues for the company's mortgage operations, through its Option One Mortgage and H&R Block Mortgage Corp. units, more than doubled to $147.1 million, compared to $80.3 million for the same period last year.

Revenues for the company's RSM McGladrey unit, parent of credit union auditor O'Rourke Sacher & Moulton, rose 12% to $95.3 million.

However, start-up costs for the unit's corporate finance and payroll services, pushed the unit into the red to the tune of $4.3 million.

Calif. Police Arrest 'Pale Bandit'

CHULA VISTA, Calif.-A 40-year-old ex-con was arrested last week on suspicions he is the so-called Pale Bandit, responsible for as many as 22 armed robberies, more than half of them at credit unions, since June 12.

Paul Hassler, was being held on parole violations while police were gathering evidence that he is the serial robber who wore heavy white pancake make-up, a wig and sunglasses as a disguise while he terrorized area CUs and banks.

The Pale Bandit, so-called because of the hue of his disguise, is believed to be responsible for as many as three robberies Aug. 23, including one at California Coast CU, where the robber fled with $1,700.

Hassler was arrested by San Diego Police at his Chula Vista home based on a tip from someone who saw surveillance videos of the Pale Bandit broadcast on television.

Robber Nabbed Exiting CU

NEW YORK-A man who robbed American FCU in Chinatown with a knife and what he said was a bomb was arrested on his way out of the building with $9,941 in cash he took from the credit union. Sam Lee, 40, was arrested carrying a package but police said it wasn't a bomb.

Survey Shows CEO Salaries Up 8%

DALLAS-The Texas CU League has released results of its annual compensation survey showing that CEOs in Texas make on average $71,518 a year (excluding benefits), about 8% more than in 2001. The average salary for EVPs/asst. mangers in 2002 is $54,174, a 5.5% increase over 2001. The survey found that CEOs working in a larger city or a heavily populated metropolitan area are likely to make more money than a CEO working in a smaller community. The survey offers data on 41 job positions, and salary comparisons between credit union CEOs and EVPs/asst. managers and their counterparts in the banking industry.

PULSE Unveils Incentive Program For Signature Debit Purchases

HOUSTON-PULSE EFT Association said it has introduced a new loyalty program that will allow its credit union and bank members to offer their customers rewards for using their signature debit cards when making purchases.

The Signature Points program, developed jointly by PULSE and MasterCard International, allows card users to earn points every time they use their PULSE signature debit card.

The points are redeemable for a variety of goods and services. PULSE provides electronic funds transfers for 3,600 financial institutions, including more than 1,300 credit unions, in 24 sates.

Troubles Mount At Ailing ATM Maker

HOUSTON-Tidel Technologies Inc., the ATM manufacturer hamstrung by the last year's bankruptcy of its biggest customer, said it has been sued by one of its largest debt holders for nonpayment.

The suit was filed by Montrose Investments Ltd., holders of $15 million of Tidel's 6% convertible debentures. Separately, Tidel said it narrowed its third quarter losses to $1 million, or six cents a share, form $16.4 million, or 94 cents a share, from last year's third quarter when the company was left reeling by the bankruptcy of Credit Card Center, the nation's biggest independent service organization for ATMs.

Tidel reported a 24% rise in third-quarter revenues to $6.2 million; however revenues for the first nine months of the company's fiscal year were down 48% because of the CCC bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation.

Tidel reported a loss of $5.1 million for the first nine months, down from $14.5 million for the same period last year.

Roommate Jailed In Christmas ATM Theft

NEWARK, N.J.-The roommate of a New Jersey ATM servicer who fled a few days before last Christmas with $5 million that was supposed to be used to replenish ATMs, was sentenced to seven years in prison last week for trying to keep some of the funds after the thief was discovered dead in his apartment.

Christopher LaCroix pleaded guilty in March to taking several duffel bags full of $3.6 million in cash and hiding them in an abandoned house after his roommate, Michael Schwartz, was found dead of apparent alcohol poisoning on Christmas day.

Authorities said $1.3 million of the stolen ATM cash is still missing and believe LaCroix knows where the loot is hidden Schwartz, 3, owned and operated Direct Connect ATM and Schwartz Armored LLC and had contracted to replenish 160 ATMs for Humboldt Bank in California when he disappeared with the cash last year, only to turn up in West Palm Beach, Fla., where his body was found.

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