Former California CU employee gets 18 months of house arrest for $ 1 million theft

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A California federal judge on Thursday sentenced former business credit firm Indira Mohabir to 18 months of house arrest for opening nearly $ 3 million in lines of credit for her boyfriend, causing more than $ 1 million losses at a California credit union.

Los Angeles District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. also sentenced Phillip Cook on Thursday to six months in federal prison and 12 months in house arrest, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. A hearing to determine compensation is scheduled for March.

Federal prosecutors have asked the federal judge to impose a 57-month prison sentence on Mohabir because she still refuses to accept responsibility for her conduct, including refusing to admit that she did anything wrong, or that she should take any responsibility or suffer consequences for the grand scheme of fraud she perpetrated, indicating a strong possibility of recidivism, according to a conviction memo filed by prosecutors.

“The sentence should also send a strong warning to others that insider banking fraud is taken seriously and punished accordingly,” prosecutors wrote. “This should make other bank insiders think twice before abusing their privileged position for their own benefit or that of others. Overall, a sentence of 57 months is sufficient but not more than necessary to serve the purposes of the sentence. “

Additionally, prosecutors pointed out in text messages and emails she sent to Cook in the months and years following her arrest in August 2016, she has demonstrated that she would do it again if she could.

“The defendant went to work at another bank after the WFCU – Western Federal Credit Union, now the $ 3.5 billion Unify Financial Credit Union at Torrance – terminated her employment, and texting and e- mails show that she was again attempting to abuse her internal position to open even more lines of credit for Cook, ”prosecutors said.

Mohabir’s lawyer declined to comment when reached on Friday by CU time. Cook’s lawyer also did not comment.

Following a three-day trial in December 2018, a Los Angeles jury found Mohabir guilty of 15 counts of conspiracy to commit insider fraud and fraud at a financial institution.

Through a dedicated business hotline, Mohabir met Cook in November 2014 and they quickly began a romantic relationship. Cook lured the former credit union employee with flowers, promised to take her on exotic trips, and sent her gifts, including a check for $ 50,000 drawn on lines of credit she had previously opened for him – a check that was intercepted at the credit union, according to trial evidence.

During their romantic talks, interspersed with discussions of how to open lines of credit, Mohabir agreed to use his position to help Cook open those lines of credit, prosecutors said.

According to testimony from his supervisors and a credit union fraud investigator, Mohabir opened lines of credit outside of his authority and without the necessary approvals from the credit union. Credit union records supported their testimony. Mohabir succeeded in opening the lines of credit by bypassing and bypassing internal controls.

As part of the program, the former credit union employee sent Cook the internal credit union policies and procedures so the couple could discuss ways to get around them. She also offered to bypass required verification steps, such as securing tax returns for loan applications submitted by Cook.

In one case, Mohabir got an approved $ 50,000 line of credit by lying to a senior executive that it had been approved by insurers, according to court documents.

Nonetheless, as it became increasingly difficult for Mohabir to get approval for lines through the normal subscription process, she changed course at the end of December 2014 by opening lines directly from the credit union system via a loan program that the credit union had in place for business clients. called the Visa Platinum Business program.

Although lines of credit were capped at $ 50,000, Mohabir soon realized that there was nothing in the system to prevent him from increasing the limit to $ 100,000. Over the course of two weeks in January 2015, she opened more than $ 2.1 million of the $ 2.7 million in lines of credit she opened for Cook. In a single day, Mohabir opened eight separate lines of credit worth $ 775,000, prosecutors said.

She hid the lines of credit by excluding them from the weekly pipeline reports she prepared for the business services department. No one at the credit union knew about the fraudulent lines of credit and no one approved the lines, according to federal prosecutors.

However, on January 21, 2015, a credit union fraud auditor / investigator was reviewing a routine audit report and discovered the unauthorized lines of credit. The auditor froze the accounts and seized as many funds as possible, including intercepting the check for $ 50,000 from Cook to Mohabir.

The credit union immediately contacted the police and fired Mohabir.

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