Also ordered to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution

Margurite Mary Cofell, 62, of Flensburg, was sentenced to eight years in prison Tuesday, in U.S. District Court in St. Paul. Cofell was also ordered to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution.

In April, Cofell pleaded guilty to credit union fraud and embezzling more than $2.5 million from June 2006 through January 2014. At the time, Cofell was president/CEO of the St. Francis Campus Credit Union in Little Falls, and put together a scheme to embezzle funds from the credit union.

As part of the scheme, Cofell diverted funds to herself and to other members of the credit union by making fake electronic deposits into the accounts of credit union members, an account in her own name, and the names of various family and friends, despite knowing that no such deposits occurred, increasing the balances available and allowing members to make withdrawals of funds that were never deposited.

Sometimes Cofell made the fake deposits to cover overdrafts in member accounts and to make fictitious electronic payments on fraudulent loans she issued in the names of credit union members, without their knowledge.

Cofell also used accounts of credit union members to authorize false loans or increase the balance of existing, legitimate loans held by members, in spite of the fact that she knew that the credit union members had not agreed to these added loans and that the transactions were fraudulent.

At times, Cofell used some of the money from the fake loans to hide fictitious deposits to member accounts, purchase credit union checks or take cash from the credit union.

As one part of the scheme, Cofell used the proceeds of the fake loans she had authorized to make payments on pre-existing loans that were delinquent, as well as to make payments on existing loans held by people she had close personal relationships with.

Cofell sometimes issued checks from the credit union supposedly purchased with cash received by the credit union from various account holders, although no cash was deposited.

Unauthorized cash withdrawals were also made from the credit union’s vault account.

As a result of the fraud, the St. Francis Campus Credit Union, an institution that had been in existence for 50 years, was placed into liquidation due to insolvency.

Central Minnesota Credit Union acquired its assets.

The court order states Cofell is to serve her time at FCI - Waseca or in a facility in or near Minnesota. She is to surrender herself at a designated location, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

The case came about as the result of an FBI investigation.

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