Member Sues Over Prison Time

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A federal appeals court has reaffirmed an earlier ruling that a former member of Nevada FCU who spent 12 years in prison, was wrongly convicted for check fraud, and is filing a civil rights case for damages.

An attorney representing 59-year-old Joni Goldyn said she will be seeking damages for her years in prison and her children will be seeking damages for loss of consortium. In its ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Goldyn did bounce checks on her credit union account, which she opened under an assumed name, but noted that Goldyn, a habitual gambler, also had a check guarantee card, requiring the credit union to cover her checks.

The appellate court said though Goldyn was charged with writing bad checks the credit union was obligated to cover them and so "the bottom line is that the checks Goldyn wrote were not bad, and the merchants who accepted her checks were not injured; they were paid in full."

The court said the credit union could have tried to collect its money from Goldyn using debt collection procedures to recover what amounted to a loan, "but failure to repay a loan is not a crime; the days of imprisoning insolvent debtors are long gone".

Goldyn was convicted of writing five bad checks on the Las Vegas credit union and, because she had four previous fraud-related convictions, was sentenced to multiple life terms as a habitual criminal. She won a pardon in 1999 and was paroled in 2001 and placed on lifetime parole after her lawyer said she reformed herself in prison, earning two college degrees and forming a Gamblers Anonymous group behind bars. (c) 2006 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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