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Feds close credit union

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

Some members expressed outrage while others were shocked and confused Friday over the closure of a local credit union that served more than 900 people.

The IBEW Local 816 Federal Credit Union was liquidated Thursday after it was learned that manager Debra C. Pyfrom allegedly stole upward of $100,000 from the cooperative.

"I knew the money was insured, so I'm not concerned," said David Loftus, a 51-year-old electrician from Hopkinsville. "But I hope they hang whoever stole our money."

Pyfrom, 60, of Reidland has been charged with theft by deception, over $10,000, and theft by failure to make a required disposition, over $10,000, Detective Capt. Matt Carter of the McCracken County Sheriff's Department said Friday.

Investigation into allegations of criminal activity at the credit union began on June 23. Detectives executed court orders that permitted review of the credit union's records, and they determined that thefts had been occurring. They then contacted the National Credit Union Administration, which joined sheriff's detectives in a June 30 visit to the credit union.

Pyfrom agreed to an interview that day, Carter said, and confessed to stealing thousands of dollars. 

Detectives have yet to determine exactly how much money was stolen over the roughly two-year period of the thefts but believe it exceeds $100,000.

A preliminary hearing was held Thursday, and the case is now set to be heard by a McCracken County Grand Jury, Carter said.

NCUA on Thursday shut down the union at 4515 Clark's River Road, which served members, employees and families of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Paducah. Paducah-based C-Plant Federal Credit Union will assume former IBEW members' shares and certificates.

NCUA public affairs specialist John Fairbanks declined to comment on the law enforcement aspect of the case, stating only that the administration had determined the credit union was insolvent and could not continue operating.

He also said he could not comment further on the closure or the reason C-Plant was selected to assume the accounts.

Former members of the IBEW credit union will possess all the rights and privileges of other C-Plant members, and should have access to the six publicly accessible C-Plant branches by next week, said Marisa Brown, marketing director for C-Plant.

She added that their accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

C-Plant staff were on hand Friday at the former IBEW credit union to answer questions. The one most frequently asked was whether their money was safe, staff said.

"We're wanting to make this a positive transition for them, and we're just here to reassure them that they're OK," Brown said.

Loftus said he'd heard some grumbling among his co-workers who felt inconvenienced, but he believes that in the big picture, the change will be beneficial because of the union's multiple locations.

Those with questions may also call 877-715-0777 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. central time or visit the mycreditunion.gov website.

The IBEW credit union was chartered in 1954 and served 929 members. C-Plant serves more than 14,000 members.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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