Federal prison for woman who embezzled over $1 million

A former employee was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in federal prison for her role in conspiring to embezzle more than $1 million from the now-closed First Hawaiian Homes Federal Credit Union on Molokai.

As part of her sentence imposed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, Janell Purdy, 40, of Wailuku was ordered to pay $949,736 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said the results of the conspiracy were “catastrophic.” He said Purdy didn’t seem to understand the root cause of her conduct in continuing “to march along in her spendthrift ways,” even after she knew she was under investigation and would be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

Watson agreed with the government that Purdy’s motivation to steal appeared to be “greed.”

Last month, co-defendant Allennie Naeole, 55, who is also known as Kalai Naeole, of Kaunakakai was sentenced to seven years in prison, three years of supervised release and $1.055 million in restitution after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

Purdy had pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

Naeole was manager and Purdy was teller and customer service representative at the credit union when they agreed to embezzle the money from June 2008 to December 2015, according to court documents and information presented in court.

The women were the only two permanent employees and were responsible for all daily banking activities, including maintaining credit union books and records.

Purdy and Naeole drew out more money than was in accounts in violation of bank policies and issued unauthorized checks from the credit union’s financial accounts, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii. The women spent the money on personal expenses, including credit card payments, trips, car payments, mortgage payments, vacation property payments and bills.

They concealed the embezzlement by creating fictitious deposit and loan entries in the credit union’s books and records, according to the news release.

To further conceal their conduct, Naeole created a fake email account to communicate with the National Credit Union Administration. She also submitted a fictitious letter to an NCUA regulator, forging a Bank of Hawaii branch manager signature and listing credit union investment assets at the Molokai branch of Bank of Hawaii, even though she knew such assets did not exist, according to the news release.

In December 2015, the scheme was uncovered by a regulator from the NCUA.

As a result of the embezzlement, the credit union became insolvent and was shut down. At the time, it had served the community for more than 75 years and had approximately 1,400 members.

The loss and liquidation expenses related to conduct by Naeole and Purdy exceeded $2 million, according to the news release.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Treasury Department — Office of Investigations and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Perlmutter.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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