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Orange County Teachers To TIP

SANTA ANA, Calif.-Orange County Teachers FCU, one of the nation's biggest credit unions, was give permission from NCUA to convert from a multiple-group sponsor to a TIP charter serving anyone in the educational industry in central California, the federal regulator said last week. The TIP charter, so-called because it allows a credit union serve anyone in a single trade, industry or profession, is significant because up till now NCUA only granted the two-year-old charter designation to those credit unions facing financial challenges, like troubled sponsors, which is not the case with Orange County Teachers FCU. The new charter will allow the $5-billion credit union to serve more than 750,000 teachers, school employees in nine surrounding counties. Separately, NCUA also approved a TIP charter for Hampton VA FCU, Hampton, Va., to serve the healthcare industry in several surrounding Virginia communities.

3 Masked Gunmen Nab Payroll

NEW YORK-Three masked gunmen held up two armed security guards making a payroll delivery to Local 1999 CU last week and made off with $100,000 during a daring mid-day raid. The two guards, one of them a retired cop packing two guns, had to go through the basement of the building where the credit union is based to deliver the cash and that's where the bandits were waiting there for them, police said. They beat the ex-cop, who suffered head wounds, and stole his guns. The credit union serves workers for the Service Employees International Union.

Three-Way Merger Gets OK

PORTLAND, Ore.-Oregon Central Credit Union said NCUA has approved its application to combine with two other area credit unions in a rare three-way merger. The combination with Oregonian FCU, in Portland, and Mountain View FCU, in nearby Gresham, Ore., will lift the Portland-based credit unions' assets from about $185 million to $250 million with a membership base of about 40,000 members. A spokesman for Oregon Central CU told The Credit Union Journal the two credit unions agreed to the merger because of their inability to grow in their current markets.

'Pillowcase Robber' Guilty

SEATTLE-A Kent, Wash. man believed to be the "Pillowcase Robber," was found guilty this week of robbing 10 area credit unions and banks and check-cashers.

Ivy Bird Gaines, 40, was believed responsible for as many as 20 area robberies since June 2002, including the Aug. 4, 2003 heist at Washington Employees Credit Union and the Aug. 7, 2003 hold-up at Alaska USA FCU.

Authorities dubbed the bandit the Pillowcase Robber because he often handed tellers a pillowcase and ordered them to fill it with cash. Gaines was arrested after a hold-up at KeyBank when police found a pillowcase with $15,000 stuffed in it in his car.

At his trial, Gaines claimed he lent his car to a man named "Fat Joe," who he claimed committed the robberies.

Man Pleads Guilty To Robberies

PORT HURON, Mich.-A Detroit man pleaded guilty last week to holding up the same credit union on two different occasions.

Larry Ellington, 46, pleaded guilty to robbing Flagship Federal Credit Union in Port Huron last Sept. 28, then again on Nov. 4. He is scheduled to be sentenced for the robberies on April 11.

Virginia CU TV Ads Debut

RICHMOND, Va.-A new television ad campaign being run by Virginia CU-the 76-year-old credit union's first foray into television-focuses in on the $5 question. The ads, developed by local agency Elevation, shows a flexible $5 bill while noting that "Five bucks won't buy much these days." Then, explaining that just $5 will buy a share in the area's biggest credit union, the image of the sawbuck morphs into a house, a car, a baby rattle and a college diploma as a woman's voice explains the benefits of credit union membership. The campaign was designed to explain the credit union's variety of services to existing members, and to reach out to potential members, as well. The 30-second ad first ran on local stations last fall and is scheduled to run through the rest of this year. The end of the spot was designed so new messages could be added. Recently, a tout for bill-paying services was added.

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