Members Of Fraud-Wracked CU Still Grappling With Faulty Records

Register now

WHEELING, W.Va. – Members of Center Valley FCU, brought down by CEO fraud that drained some $9 million from the institution, continue to pursue an accounting for losses on their share accounts and for missing loan payments, authorities said yesterday after the CEO, Bernie Metz, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Center Valley was taken over and liquidated by NCUA in February 2009 because of the losses caused by the CEO’s embezzlement.

“While a number of former credit union members chose to meet with me and my staff in person to discuss their issues, I know that there are many more similarly situated people who still are having problems with their credit union accounts, whether they are upside down on their automobile loans or they feel they are being unfairly harassed by collection calls,” said U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld, after the Metz sentencing yesterday.

Ihlenfeld said Metz, who confessed to stealing at least $5 million to pay for her and her family’s lavish lifestyle, used the one-time $17 million credit union as “her own personal piggy bank.”

“Due to the convictions obtained in this matter, her opulent lifestyle has ended,” said Ihlenfeld. “Things will be much different for Bernie Metz behind bars and she will no longer enjoy the life of luxury to which she had become accustomed.”

As part of her sentence, Metz must pay $4.9 million in restitution and forfeit several luxury vehicles and a business she owned with her husband that was financed with ill-gotten credit union loans, the Roadworthy Restaurant and Resort in West Liberty, W.Va.

Prosecutors said Metz used credit union funds to buy and renovate the Inn and to pay off her family’s credit cards, finance improvements on her house, and buy cars for herself, her husband and children, including a vintage Thunderbird and three Mercedes Benzes.

Metz’s husband and two adult children also were implicated in the embezzlement but were not charged under a plea agreement with the one-time CEO.

Prosecutors said Metz earned about $60,000 annually at the time of her crimes, yet she and her husband “spent millions.”

NCUA estimates the failure of Center Valley will cost the National CU Share Insurance Fund $16.4 million to resolve.

 

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
MORE FROM AMERICAN BANKER