A Galveston woman has been sentenced to 36 months in federal prison for stealing more than $460,000 from a Texas City credit union, a scheme that ended with the financial institution dissolving, according to officials connected to it.
Susan Margaret Garza had pleaded guilty in August 2017 to one count of bank fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, said Angela Dodge, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Garza was then sentenced Thursday, according to federal records.
Garza worked for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 527 Federal Credit Union from February 1996 to April 2013, said Michael Henderson, the union’s business manager and financial secretary.
Three union members had formed the credit union with their own money about 50 years ago to help fellow members make deposits and get loans to help them when they were unemployed, Henderson said.
Garza siphoned more than $466,000 from member accounts, paying her own bills, purchasing several houses and putting her son through flight school, Henderson said.
“She was living a lavish lifestyle for a number of years under the members’ noses,” Henderson said.
Garza resigned from the credit union around the same time members discovered discrepancies with the group’s financials, Henderson said.
The credit union was shut down because of the crime and would not reopen, Henderson said.
Most of the people she stole from were retirees, Henderson said.
Garza executed a scheme to defraud the credit union by withdrawing unauthorized amounts from members’ accounts and making loans in their names, Dodge said in 2017. Garza admitted to issuing a check to her landlord’s daughter in September 2001 without a credit union member’s consent, Dodge said.
As part of a plea agreement, Garza will serve three years of supervised release after finishing her prison sentence and must pay more than $460,000 in restitution, records show.
“We can finally move past this,” Henderson said. “The credit union was separate, but because it’s tied to the union, it gives us the same black eye. It’s unfortunate, but we can now move forward and live and learn. We can make sure the same mistakes aren’t made twice.”