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Former Minn. credit union executive sentenced for fraud

Former St. Francis Campus Employees CU executive Margurite Cofell was sentenced to 96 months in prison for leading a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme that led to the February 2014 liquidation of the credit union due to insolvency.

Cofell had pleaded guilty to one count of credit union fraud in April and was sentenced Dec. 3.

Cofell had served as the manager, COO and/or president of the Little Falls, Minn.-based credit union from at least June 2006 through January 2014, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota. Per Cofell's guilty plea and court documents, she used her position and access to fraudulently divert credit union funds to herself and other credit union members, including family members, friends and businesses in the Little Falls and Flensburg area. Cofell diverted these funds through authorizing fictitious loans or increasing the balances on existing legitimate loans without the knowledge or authorization of the borrowers, issuing checks from the credit union despite the absence of any corresponding deposits, making fictitious electronic deposits into the accounts of credit union members that they did not contribute but later withdrew, taking cash from tellers' cash drawers and the vault, and recording fictitious payments on family members' loans.

Cofell was found to have caused a loss to the credit union of about $2.5 million, which she must pay back in restitution. She will also be subject to five years of supervised release.