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Samples Claims Insanity Defense

ST. PAUL, Minn.-A decorated Navy veteran was temporarily insane from medications treating his post-traumatic stress disorder that he couldn't tell right from wrong when he robbed Red Wing CU in a commando-style raid May 3, 2001, defense lawyers for Mark Samples claimed in opening arguments for his armed robbery trial.

Samples, claimed defense attorney Richard Richman, was so depressed from medication and the after-effects of the deadly missile attack on the USS Stark 14 years before, that he hatched a drug-adled plan to kill himself and provide for his wife and infant son with the proceeds from the credit union robbery.

"This case is not a whodunit," said Richman. "This is a whydunit." Samples, now 40, was just 24 when two errant Iraqi missiles tore into the U.S. battleship stationed in the Persian Gulf in 1987, and killed 37 U.S. sailors.

Samples spent 13 hours helping stop the spread of fires, saving lives and earning medals for heroism. It was the lingering affects of that fateful day that caused Samples to crack and rob the credit union, his defense lawyer argued.

Wearing a wet suit and mask, Samples rode to Red Wing CU on his mountain bike that day and held up the credit union using a semiautomatic handgun, escaping with $70,000 in cash.

He dropped all but $10,500 of the loot as he peddled away, then left the remaining cash behind while he hid with scuba gear submerged in the nearby Mississippi River for eight hours to elude capture.

Dealers Charged With Swindling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska-Two local car dealers were charged with lying to both lenders and customers in a swindle of more than $100,000.

Mohammad Malik, 46, and Taeyul Choi, 37, persuaded customers to lie to Alaska USA FCU, Denali Alaskan FCU and Wells Fargo Bank, to help them finance cars they sold at United Auto, authorities said.

Malik is also accused of cheating customers who sold him cars to be resold on consignment, by lying on the repurchase price and keeping the difference.

Authorities said the men coached customers to lie on their loan applications to qualify them for loans and sometimes produced fake documents for the customers.

WECU Reopens MCI Branch

TULSA, Okla.-Williams Employees CU said it reopen its branch in the Cherokee Industrial Park serving employees of MCI, one of its biggest select groups.

The branch was opened in 1996 but closed in March 2003 because of the reduction of employees at WorldCom, now known as MCI

As part of its reorganization under bankruptcy, MCI currently employees 1,875 people in Tulsa-down from a peak of 4,600 in 2000-- and pledged to locate as many as 1,600 in the area over the next 10 years in exchange for the dismissal of state fraud charges.

Funds To Mexico Via Poni Express

PENNINGTON, N.J.-American Cash Exchange has introduced a new card system to help Mexican migrants remit money back home.

The Poni PIN Card, introduced in the Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas markets, comes with five free long-distance telephone minutes so that the sender may tell the recipient a PIN number printed on the back of the card.

Recipients in Mexico then use the PIN to withdraw the funds in pesos from an ATM.

To send money, a customer chooses a card worth 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 pesos, then pays a fee based on the official exchange rate that day, plus a $12 commission.

Customers can benefit by avoiding paperwork and requirements for two forms of identification to open a credit union or bank account, and by taking advantage of shifts in daily exchange rates.

Member Chases ATM Robber

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.-A suspect in an ATM robbery at the Tennessee FCU branch here was arrested after the victim chased him down in his car, then rammed the suspect's vehicle, bringing it to a stop after a rear tire blew out and the car careened into a tour bus.

Charles Thompson said he was making a withdrawal from the ATM when the suspect demanded money at gunpoint. Thompson gave the assailant the cash, then ran to his own vehicle and gave chase. Police arrested Lebron Copeland, 25, at the scene.

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