January 17, 2007
Reported by Pam Dixon
41 year old Cris Belaire of Lake Charles pleaded guilty to stealing 673-thousand dollars from customer accounts while working at the McNeese Federal Credit Union from 1997 to 2005. The former teller was sentenced Tuesday to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay it all back and more.
Credit Union Board President Dr. Larry DeRouen says the thefts occurred over an eight year period. DeRouen says, "It was a pretty ingenious method over a long period of time by a very, very trusted employee."
Belaire was not only trusted, but we'll liked. But behind an exterior of kindness, Belaire was able to fool credit union auditors year after year. DeRouen says, "That money was taken from one account, shifted to another to another and back and forth over a long period of time in order to cover those things."
How did the thefts go on for so long? According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Belaire targeted 16 large, but rarely used savings accounts and savings statements only went out every three months. Some customers who called the credit union because they didn't get a statement were sent altered ones. Belaire finally got caught and reportedly confessed after a customer noticed his account was short in September 2005.