BRUNSWICK, Maine — A 42-year-old Topsham woman was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison for stealing more than $500,000 from Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, where she was employed for 23 years.
Marsha Richard, 42, of Topsham pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft from a credit union and was sentenced by Judge D. Brock Hornby in U.S. District Court in Portland to serve 33 months in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn., followed by five years supervised release, according to court documents.
The amount of restitution Richard will be required to pay will be determined within 30 days, due to a pending settlement of a civil suit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff said Monday.
In September, Richard pleaded guilty to the federal offense following an investigation by Brunswick police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In a sentencing memorandum, U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty II outlined Richard’s crime:
Over approximately six years, Richard “manipulate(d) accounting entries regarding checks that members had deposited but that had been returned for insufficient funds (‘return items’),” he wrote.
When funds were collected from a member’s account, rather than crediting the appropriate account, she credited her own account or the accounts of her daughter, husband or other family members or friends, and then diverted those funds for her own use.
Richard also “manipulated several different internal accounting systems” and fabricated reports and processed stolen funds through dozens of member accounts.
When balances of the accounts were examined in August 2010, Richard’s supervisor and credit union president Roger Sirois met with Richard, and she admitted to concocting the scheme, asking how she might pay back the funds — which, according to court documents, totaled $518,217.06.
She was terminated, and according to court documents, in subsequent text messages with Sirois, Richard stated, “I’m sorry and I hope u won’t hate me forever” and then, “Hey there … I want to make this right … I just don’t know what to do.”
Brunswick police interviewed Richard and she admitted to the crimes.
In September 2011, she pleaded guilty to one count of theft by a credit union employee.
Richard faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
According to Delahanty’s memo, Richard has no prior criminal history and no physical or mental illness. Delahanty requested a sentence of 41 months in prison, followed by three years probation.
Defense attorney Richard Regan of Moncure & Barnicle asked the court to impose a sentence of 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
A work-related injury sustained by Richard’s husband means “it is possible that the family finances will not support payment of basic expenses if Ms. Richard is incarcerated for a lengthy period of time,” Regan wrote in a pre-sentencing memo.
According to Regan, after Richard’s husband was out of work for a time, her income was not enough to sustain “the lifestyle that her family was accustomed to with two wage earners,” and “if family members asked for things she did not have the heart to deny them.”
However, Regan wrote that neither Richard’s husband nor any other family members or friends was told of her activities.
He noted in the report that a civil action brought by the credit union and its insurer would “result in her turning over a substantial amount of assets, including property” — specifically a 401(k) account — and estimated that the cash value would be approximately $70,000 to $80,000 after assets are liquidated.
Reached Monday afternoon, Regan said that settlement agreement was signed Monday afternoon. Before March 23, when Richard must report to FCI Danbury, the exact terms — which he declined to disclose — will be finalized.
“The bottom line is, Ms. Richard is going to be turning over some assets toward restitution prior to the point at which she goes to prison,” he said.
Regan said he hoped that Richard’s sentence would be lighter, but said it was clear that Hornby “carefully weighed both sides of the argument.”
In a phone interview Monday, Sirois, of the credit union, called the sentence “appropriate” and said he is relieved the federal process has ended.
“It’s now behind us and we can now focus without its distractions on taking care of our members and providing them with the products and services they need and require, especially as everybody continues to deal with these difficult economic times,” Sirois said.
Brunswick Police Capt. Mark Waltz, who also attended Monday’s sentencing in Portland, said, “We hope the sentence sends a message that this betrayal of trust is taken seriously.”
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