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Woman pleads guilty to embezzlement of credit union branch

October 17, 2013

EAST PROVIDENCE — A Fall River woman has pled guilty to embezzling more than $437,000 from a Columbus Credit Union branch office in East Providence where she was employed as a supervisor.

Crystal Ferreira, 27, of Fall River, now faces up to 30 years in federal prison when she is sentenced in January, according to U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, who announced the guilty plea Thursday along with East Providence Police Chief Joseph H. Tavares and Vincent B. Lisi, special agent in charge of the Boston field office of the FBI.

At the time of her Oct. 4 guilty plea to one count of embezzlement from a federally insured credit union, Ferreira admitted to the court that beginning in May 2012 she began taking large sums of money from the credit union’s vault, ATM, and cash shipments delivered to the credit union.

According to information presented to the court, on Sept. 18, 2012, during an investigation by East Providence Police into an unrelated robbery of the credit union, Ferreira admitted that she had been embezzling funds. She told police she embezzled the funds in response to a demand for cash being made to her by two men she said threatened her, her co-workers and their families. She later recanted the story of the demand for cash and the threats.

Ferreira admitted to the court that beginning in May 2012, she first took $10,000 from the vault, and replaced it with money from the ATM. She took another $10,000 a few weeks later. On another day, Ferreira admitted to the court, on several occasions she placed as much bundled cash as she could in shopping bags which she later removed from the credit union. In addition, Ferreira admitted to embezzling two bulk money shipments of $65,000 each which were delivered to the branch office but which she never entered into the computer system. A credit union audit determined that Ferreira embezzled a total of $437,250.

Ferreira is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr. on Jan. 9, 2014. At sentencing, Ferreira faces statutory penalties of up to 30 years in federal prison, to be followed by up to five years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin S. Towbin.
The matter was investigated by East Providence Police with the assistance of the FBI.


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