Credit Union Teller Embezzles $7-million

LOUISVILLLE, KY -- A Louisville area woman managed to embezzle millions of dollars, at an average monthly rate of over $150,000 until caught, exposing a major flaw in procedures at an area credit union.

For almost four years, Patricia Helen Sherman hid stacks of $100 bills in her pockets and carried them out of the Obelisk Federal Credit Union in New Albany, Ind., where she worked as head teller, federal investigators told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Sherman, 50, of Louisville, eventually took $7 million -- an average of $152,454 a month -- and gambled most of it away at Ohio River casinos, authorities said when they charged her with embezzlement in U.S. District Court last fall, reports the C-J.

Sherman could get her hands on the money because she had oversight of cash in the vault as well as the credit union's ledger that tracks the cash, according to documents filed with the case.

Sherman now claims the money is entirely gone, authorities say. She faces up to 30 years in prison and is expected to enter a guilty plea in the next three weeks, the newspaper reports.

The staggering scale of the theft -- estimated by the FBI to be one of the largest embezzlements against a U.S. financial institution by an employee -- stunned co-workers and employees at General Mills, the former Pillsbury plant on Grant Line Road where the credit union is based.

Customers of Sherman recalled her as a sincere person who was good with people, reports the newspaper.

"The first thing I thought was: How do you take that kind of money and nobody notices?" said Barbara Anderson, executive director of the Haven House homeless shelter who first met Sherman when she worked at a Jeffersonville credit union.

"We used to tease and cut up and laugh all time," Anderson said. "Nicest person you'd ever want to know."

Roger Miller, union president at General Mills, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Sherman was like all the employees he encountered at Obelisk -- "friendly and real professional."

Copyright: The Louisville Courier-Journal

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