Lending The Ticker

Michigan credit union ex-CFO shockingly confesses to embezzling $20 million

Walked right into sheriff’s office and spilled his guts

money handcuffs

In a development seemingly out of nowhere, the former chief financial officer of a Michigan credit union and a man described as a “community hero,” walked into the Oakland County sheriff's office last week and confessed to embezzling $20 million from the credit union over the last 12 years.

The Detroit Free Press has the full details on Michael LaJoice, who served as chief financial officer of Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union, and his shocking confession.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Michael LaJoice was known for charitable giving and was honored in 2013 as a community hero in Fenton for being an everyday person who went out of his way to help others and the community.

Earlier this week, a little more than two years after receiving that Community Hero Award from the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce, the businessman and accountant walked into the Oakland County Sheriff's Office and told detectives that he embezzled about $20 million over a dozen years from Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union, while he was the chief financial officer.

According to the Free Press report, LaJoice was a “community stalwart,” who made less than $100,000 as the CFO of Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union, but lived in a “multimillion-dollar home” and had invested millions of dollars in several businesses, including a dance studio and a retail and residential project currently in development.

The Free Press reported that LaJoice’s alleged crimes were completely unknown to anyone until LaJoice walked into the sheriff’s office and confessed.

Again from the Free Press:

On Wednesday, the Tyrone Township man walked into the Sheriff's Office headquarters in Pontiac and told investigators that he embezzled about $20 million during a 12-year period at the credit union in Independence Township, where he had been CFO since 2003. Undersheriff Mike McCabe did not say what prompted LaJoice to turn himself in.

Investigators froze LaJoice’s bank accounts and sheriff’s investigators executed search warrants at several locations and on financial accounts linked to LaJoice.

Local authorities are “stunned” as to how LaJoice’s alleged crimes went unnoticed for so long.

"This isn't the Bank of New York," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told the Free Press. "It's a small asset credit union."

The Free Press report also includes reaction from Donna Bullard, the president and CEO of Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union.

"While this investigation is proceeding, we want to assure our members that it is business as usual at the credit union. Members should remember that all accounts are insured by the NCUA, a federal share insurance agency for up to $250,000," Bullard said in an email to the Free Press. "At this time, we are unable to comment any further while the investigation is ongoing. Members will be updated in the future when more information is available."

LaJoice is currently in custody, being held on a $1 million bond. He faces 14 embezzlement-related charges

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