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CU, TV Station To Switch Rooms

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.-BrightStar CU is making its foray into the redesign business. The $285-million credit union is sponsoring a "Switch-A-Room Makeover Contest" in which two neighbors will redecorate a room in the other's house. BrightStar is working with the local NBC affiliate WTVJ, and partnering with Craig Konhauzer Designs and Homecrafters of America for the designs and furnishings.

Tellers Help Bust Check Ring

GREEN BAY, Wis.-Alert tellers at several area credit unions are being credited with helping to crack a counterfeit check ring. Six suspects were scheduled to be charged last week with cashing at least $20,000 of counterfeit payroll checks on two local businesses at several area credit unions. The suspects opened membership accounts at the credit unions with minimum deposits, then cashed the phony checks at various branches of those credit unions. Two tellers at Pioneer CU became suspicious of the checks and contacted police. Another teller at Horizon CU tracked down the checks' origins, then called police, who told her to stall the suspects until they got there. Police arrived in time to arrest three of the suspects in the parking lot. At least four of the suspects were doomed, anyway, said police, because they signed their real names on the counterfeit checks and would have been tracked down eventually.

Ex-Fiserv Broker To Pay Fine

WASHINGTON-A former broker for Fiserv Securities agreed to pay $100,000 and to be barred from the securities industry in order to settle charges of market timing, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced last week. Thomas Gerbasio, who headed Fiserv Securities New York office until April 2004, settled the charges without admitting or denying guilt. Fiserv Securities was sold last year to Fidelity Investments, which wound down the business last month. The SEC charged that Fiserv Securities placed tens of thousands of market timing trades for select hedge funds and claimed Gerbasio defrauded hundreds of mutual funds and their investors by using sophisticated methods to circumvent SEC rules on market timing.

The methods included misrepresenting the nature of the trades to the funds, opening dozens of accounts on behalf of their customers to conceal their identity from the funds, entering trades in amounts that would avoid detection, and advising their customers on strategies to conceal the market timing from funds that objected to the scheme. A year ago Fiserv agreed to pay $15 million to settle charges of improper mutual fund trading. Gerbasio was ordered to repay $540,000 in illegal profits, but all but $100,000 of the repayment was waved under the final judgment.

CUs Get Funds From FHLB

SAN FRANCISCO-The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco said it awarded its member institutions $8.2 million, more than $500,000 of it to credit unions, to help them finance mortgages for low-income first-time homebuyers. The FHLB awarded $4.1 million to help finance downpayments for participants in the Individual Development Empowerment Account Program, and $4.1 million for the Workforce Initiative Subsidy for Homeownership Program. Under both programs, the bank's matching grants may be used for downpayment and/or closing costs. The credit union recipients are: Arizona FCU, Meriwest CU, University & State Employees CU, Santa Cruz Community CU, AEA FCU, Arrowhead Central and Travis CU.

Mother Pleads Guilty To Robbery

CORTEZ, Colo.-A-62-year-old woman who allegedly robbed Southwest Colorado FCU with her daughter last May, pleaded guilty last week to the incident in which $105,245 was stolen. In exchange for her guilty plea to class 3 felony theft, charges of conspiracy to commit theft and theft receiving more than $15,000 against Sharon Vaughn were dropped. Vaughn's daughter, Danja Vaughn, is scheduled to stand trial on similar charges next month. Both Vaughns were arrested after they tried to commit suicide, following a search of their home when $85,494 of the credit union loot was discovered by police. The mother and daughter became prime suspects in the case after Sharon Vaughn paid a $20,000 debt to her landlord in $20 bills. After the landlord deposited the money in her bank, the bank called police.

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