by Alex Lloyd Gross
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Joan Brown, 80, of Bristol, PA, was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,016,900 in restitution by United States District Judge Joshua Wolson for her scheme to embezzle credit union funds for which she provided management services through a company which she co-founded.
In September 2020, the defendant pleaded guilty to six counts of embezzlement of credit union funds and 11 counts of making false entries in credit union records arising from her embezzlement of more than $1 million over several years from six small credit unions. Brown is the former CEO of the Bensalem-based Service Center for Credit Unions, and in that position was well-known in the credit union community in the Philadelphia area. In fact, according to court document, in the past she had been described as “the face of credit unions in Philadelphia.” As a result of her actions, six small credit unions failed and were liquidated by the National Credit Union Association.
“Credit unions, by their nature, are cooperative institutions which rely on the support of everyone involved to function and remain safe places to save and borrow money,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “In her position as the CEO of a credit union management company, Brown destroyed six such credit unions with her greed and dishonesty. Our office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that anyone who commits this type of fraud will be held accountable for their actions.”
“The credit unions contracting with SCCU depended on the company to ably manage their financial matters,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Joan Brown took full advantage of that trust, dipping into accounts and stealing money for herself, over and over again, for years. Her criminal actions caused the insolvency and shutdown of six local financial institutions. Brown is finally being held accountable for this extensive and clear-cut fraud.”