Judge orders 11-year prison term in $19M embezzlement case

By Ed White
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — Calling the theft “staggering,” a judge sentenced a man to 11 years in prison last Thursday for embezzling nearly $19 million from a suburban Detroit credit union.

Michael LaJoice’s greed over 12 years made Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union insolvent. It merged in 2016 with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, a few months after he walked inside the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and confessed.

“I used to think that money can buy happiness. That’s not the case,” LaJoice said in court. “I don’t have to live a lie anymore.”

LaJoice, who was chief financial officer at the credit union, bought a luxurious home, fancy cars and commercial properties, and sometimes traveled by private jet. U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain said he had to send a strong message to the community with a stiff sentence.

“It’s staggering,” Drain said of the stolen millions.

“It’s unfortunate that you fell for the trappings of wealth. There was no real desperation that you were facing,” the judge said.

Drain followed the sentencing recommendation of prosecutors. Defense attorney Michael Manley asked for a five-year prison term.

“The scale is really breathtaking. ... This was not a one-time lapse in judgment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Neal said.

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »