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CUs Take On Bank-Backed Candidate

DENVER-The state's credit unions hope that a new tool, Project Zip Code, created by CUNA, will help them propel former state Democratic Senate Minority Leader Michael Feeley to victory over former state Republican Party Chair Robert Beauprez, chairman and CEO of Heritage Bank for Colorado's new congressional seat, the seventh district.

The new district is one of about a dozen being focused on by both parties as they grapple over control of the House, a slim 11-seat margin separating them this Congress. Feeley helped boost credit union efforts on field of membership and municipal deposits before being forced by term limits to leave the state Senate in 2000, according to Jane Willard, chief lobbyist for the Colorado league.

The bank-supported Beauprez, in contrast, "has never been a friend of credit unions and he's made that clear. He's been outspoken in his support for banks against credit unions," Willard told The Credit Union Journal.

The 33 credit unions in suburban Denver encompassing the new district are using CUNA's Project Zip Code to help identify voters and to urge them to vote for Feeley either through newsletters or direct mailings.

Both the league and CUNA have agreed not to use the project to identify voters, but individual CUs may use the information to their political advantage, according to Willard.

The Colorado league is also using Project Zip Code to help Democrat Stan Matsunaka, president of the state Senate, in his campaign against Republican Marilyn Musgraves to succeed retiring Republican Bob Schaffer for the fourth district seat.

CU Offers Speech-Enabled Lending

SALT LAKE CITY-America First CU said it has successfully deployed a speech-enabled instant loan application that allows members to obtain loan approvals and other loan information using simple voice commands.

The service combines voice recognition technology provided by SpeechWorks International Inc., and a loan decision making solution called Loan Navigator provided by CGI Group Inc., on a platform from Intervoice, which combines voice and data solutions.

Members of Utah's largest credit union can use the instant loan application for auto, credit card, home equity, and personal loans.

Colo. Considers Private Insurance

DENVER-The state's Division of Financial Services is reviewing the issue of private deposit insurance for credit unions to determine whether they will provide the private insurance option for state charters.

David Paul, state credit union supervisor, told The Credit Union Journal his department is exploring whether the state statute will allow for private coverage of deposits, whether it is advisable to allow it, and what enabling rules, if any, would be required to provide the option.

The study, said Paul, was prompted by inquiries by some state credit unions over the past two years about the permissibility of private insurance.

Paul said they have not been contacted by American Share Insurance, the only provider of private coverage, but expect to talk to them as part of the review. The department is expected to present an update to the state's Financial Services Board at Thursday's meeting.

SECU Offers Life Stages Services

RALEIGH, N.C.-State Employees' CU has introduced the next stage in what it calls its "Life Stages" line of services, this time a program called "Off to College/Off to Work."

The new stage is targeted at members between the ages of 18 and 25 and offers an invitation to young adults who are looking for cost-effective savings, checking, and credit card services, college costs, or other "getting started in life" expenses.

The new offering follows earlier Life Stages programs that include the FAT CAT youth account for members up to age 12 (50,000 have enrolled since November, 2000), and the Zard Program, in which more than 15,000 teens have enrolled.

Members who sign up for Off to College/Off to Work and open a new checking account are being given a planner/address book imprinted with the SECU logo and a free first box of checks.

ATM Surcharges Fund Fire Prevention Program

SAYREVILLE, N.J.-Raritan Bay FCU said it is donating all income earned from ATM surcharges in the third quarter to help educate local schoolchildren on the importance of fire prevention.

The credit union said it has made a contribution to the Sayreville Fire Department to help purchase a Smoke House, a small version of a modern day home that fills with smoke which is used to instruct children how to react if a fire breaks out in their home.

Funds were also donated to the South Amboy Fire Department. The credit union collects funds for charitable donations from the ATM surcharges of non-member transactions at its three ATMs.

CU Closes Spigot On Check-Washing Scheme

VERNON HILLS, Ill.-A counterfeit check-washing scheme was apparently put to an end by the sharp attention of a Baxter CU teller.

Two men have pleaded guilty and a third is awaiting trial on charges they stole checks out of residential mailboxes, then used acetone to clean the original writing off of checks, before forging the checks.

The scheme was uncovered by a teller at the credit union, who called police before handing over the cash to the suspects. Three suspects in the case were arrested in a car nearby the credit union soon afterwards.

Ronnie Kinzer, 39, of Franklin Park, confessed to cashing a washed check at the credit union and a separate one at a local bank, and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Edison Dottison, 42, of Chicago, was sentenced to two years in jail in connection with the check-washing scheme. Kinzer's brother, Fred Kinzer, 34, of Waukegan, is awaiting trial on similar charges.

Armored Robbery Suspect Captured On Highway

COLUMBUS, Ohio-A heavily-armed Colorado man wanted in an armed robbery at San Antonio FCU last March was arrested by state troopers on the Ohio Turnpike last Friday.

Authorities said Jordan Bebo, 24, of Berthoud, Colo., was wanted in the credit union robbery as well as a separate armed hold-up at Security State Bank in Dripping Springs, Texas.

Bond was set at $135,000 after a police search found a Colt AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, three 45-calibre handguns, more than 1,200 rounds of ammunition, and two sets of stolen license plates in Bebo's vehicle.

Robbery Suspect Loses Foot Race

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Neb.-A 43-year-old local man was arrested last week following a brief foot chase after a police officer noticed he resembled a suspect in two armed credit union and one bank robbery.

Employees at United CU, Union Pacific Railroad CU and TierOne Bank all identified the suspect, Greg Becker, in photo lineups as the man who robbed them last month, claiming to have a gun.

Becker was arrested carrying a large roll of bills bearing serial numbers matching currency stolen in the robberies and was being held on $97,000 bail.

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