Woman sentenced for stealing $1.9M from credit union

The Detroit News

A Westland woman was sentenced Thursday to 30 months to 20 years in prison for stealing $1.9 million from a veterans’ credit union she ran.

Fuataina Afutiti, 50, who was president and chief executive officer of the Veterans Health Administration Credit Union, had pleaded guilty to a count of receiving proceeds from a continuing criminal enterprise and a count of embezzlement from a credit union.

She used the money to gamble, finance vacations, buy a $100,000 motor home and purchase luxury cars, including a new Mercedes-Benz.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said the offense was especially egregious because the credit union was used by veterans, including ones who were disabled and living on fixed incomes.

“I am pleased to see this verdict,” he said. “This person not only took advantage of her position within the credit union but took advantage of military veterans,” he said.

Afutiti, who will report to prison on Jan. 4, also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $1.9 million. She was sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court.

State credit union examiners discovered the embezzlement during a routine audit in February, said authorities.

The audit found irregularities and cash shortfalls from 2012 to 2016, said officials. When questioned about it, Afutiti wasn’t able to provide a logical explanation.

Because of the theft, the credit union became insolvent and closed in March 2016, said authorities.

All memberships in the credit union were transferred to the Public Credit Union, which assumed all assets, loans and shares.

Any members with questions about their accounts can contact the Public Credit Union at (734) 641-6335. If they have questions about the closing of Veterans Health Administration Credit Union, they can call the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services toll-free at 877) 999-6442.