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Ukraine Protests Fueled By U.S. CUs

CHICAGO-The protests in the Ukraine which led that country's Supreme Court to overturn last month's disputed election results got an assist from America's Ukrainian credit unions, which are preparing a get-out-the vote drive for the new elections to be held later this month.

The network of 18 Ukrainian CUs here in the U.S. is preparing to mobilize as many as 400,000 eligible Ukrainians in the U.S. to vote in those new elections, after having funneled as much as $1 million to aid the protests that brought down last month's fraud-tainted elections.

SelfReliance FCU in Chicago, alone, has wired more than $300,000 in the past few weeks to aid the protestors, with the Ukrainian CUs waiving the $30- to $50-transfer fee so Ukrainian Americans and immigrants can wire money to family members still in the Ukraine to support the protests.

With new elections in the offing, tens of thousands of Ukrainian voters living in the U.S. will be able to vote at one of four consulates in Chicago, New York, Washington or San Francisco-many of whom were transported to the voting polls courtesy of their credit unions the last time around.

"I'm sure credit unions will want to bus voters to the polls again," said Stephen Kerda, chairman of the Ukrainian National Credit Union Association.

GFCU Buys Insurance Agency

PITTSFIELD, Mass.-Greylock FCU said it has acquired Read-Shaw Insurance Agency, which provides auto, homeowner, life and commercial lines of coverage.

The credit union plans to retain the agency's nine employees and rename it Greylock Insurance Agency. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Previously, Greylock FCU offered members insurance discounts through a deal with Berkshire Mutual Life Insurance Co., but that arrangement ended two years ago.

Truliant's Schaefer To Chair NACCU

WASHINGTON-The National Association of Community CUs said it has named Marcus Schaefer, president of Truliant FCU, as its new chairman.

Schaefer has served on the board of the young group since its 1999 inception. The organization serves both community-chartered credit unions and credit unions serving broad communities and fields of membership.

Hurricane No Cover For CU Slaying

ORLANDO, Fla.-A would-be robber who shot a Fairwinds CU teller to death Sept. 11 was apparently hoping damage from Hurricane Frances the day before would divert police from covering the credit union.

But the ploy backfired on 20-year-old Luc Termitus, as police patrolling the neighborhood to review storm damage responded immediately to the shooting and arrested the assailant in less than a minute. Termitus is scheduled to go on trial for the incident, in which 55-year-old Ellen Gelsinger was shot dead just weeks after she was hired by the credit union. Termitus told police the shooting was accidental and the gun went off when he hit Gelsinger in the head after she told him she couldn't open the vault.

Tighter Security Prompts New HQ

ROMEOVILLE, Ill.-Argonne CU, saying heightened security following Sept. 11 has made it difficult for members to access its facilities in Argonne National Laboratories, plans to build a new headquarters building here. Plans call for groundbreaking next spring on a two-story, 23,598 square-foot office, with completion slated for 2006. Argonne is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's science and engineering research laboratories.

Arrest Leads To Homemade Checks

RIO RANCHO, N.M.-An arrest of a local man who tried to cash a stolen check at New Mexico Educators CU has led police to a local counterfeit check ring. The suspect told police he was given the check by his neighbors, who he said made false checks and identification on their home computer. Police raided the neighbor's home and confiscated concealed checks, check making equipment, computers, software, disks, scanners and digital cameras.

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