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May 2, 2013

Woman charged with embezzling $100,000-plus from church credit union

NEW CASTLE — A Lawrence County woman has been indicted on a charge of embezzlement from a credit union.

The one-count indictment was returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, according to U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.

Victoria Rozanski, 59, of 807 Jefferson Ave., Ellwood City, was named as the sole defendant.

According to the indictment, from around January 2003 until around May 2009, Rozanski, who was the manager of the Holy Redeemer Parish Federal Credit Union in Ellwood City, embezzled in excess of $100,000 from the credit union.

Rozanski declined to comment on the indictment.

The credit union had 234 members and assets of nearly $630,000 when it was absorbed last year by the much larger Freedom United Federal Credit Union, which now has more than 7,500 members and nearly $53 million in assets, according to Zelda Smith, president of Freedom United.

“It was very small, very limited in service,” said Smith of the Holy Redeemer credit union, who could offer no details about the theft.

The pastor of the parish that established the credit union in 1935 did not immediately return a call for comment, but Smith and others familiar with the credit union said it was so tiny it didn’t have a teller window and operated out of a 10-foot-square room open only three hours a week.

It remains open as a branch of the larger credit union, which Smith said merged with it last May.

It was not immediately clear if that merger was the result of the alleged thefts, and federal prosecutors could not immediately detail how the money was allegedly stolen or why.

But Smith said none of the credit union’s members “lost a penny. It was totally insured. Their money, their accounts were not affected.”

The charge Rozanski faces is embezzling from a federally insured credit union. The National Credit Union Administration Board insured the deposits, much like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures bank deposits.

The charge against Rozanski carries up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, though federal sentences are driven largely by advisory guidelines that reflect the actual amount stolen and the defendant’s criminal history. The Associated Press found no record of arrests or convictions for Rozanski in Pennsylvania.

The parish credit union was limited to parish members or their family members, Smith said. The new merged credit union draws members from three western Pennsylvania school districts, several large businesses and a total of 150 sponsors. Freedom United was established 75 years ago.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee J. Karl is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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