BRUNSWICK — Over the course of six years, Topsham-resident Marsha Richard allegedly stole at least $519,000 from her former employer, Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union.

The Brunswick-based credit union, which has branches in Cumberland, Freeport and Topsham, has filed a civil lawsuit accusing Richard of fraud, embezzlement and conversion. 

Credit union President and Chief Executive Roger Sirois said he could not answer questions about Richard due to an ongoing criminal investigation. But in a written statement he said that “a long-time employee has admitted to embezzling credit union funds. Marsha Richard of Topsham has been terminated from the credit union’s employ.”

Richard, 41, began working at the credit union in June 1987, according to documents filed at Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland. In the late 1990s she began to process checks that had been deposited at the credit union, but which were later returned due to insufficient funds or other reasons.

Normally, when a check is deposited at Atlantic Regional, the credit union transfers the money into that member’s bank account. Then, the bank of whomever wrote the check sends the money to Atlantic Regional.

When a check bounces, that means the check writer’s account does not contain enough money, and his or her bank is unable to transfer the amount of the check back to Atlantic Regional. When this happened, it was Richard’s job to take back the money Atlantic Regional already transfered into its member’s bank account.

But Richard did not follow procedure.

Instead, of transferring the money from the member’s bank account back to Atlantic Regional, she put the money into her own bank account, or that of a friend or family member.

In August 2010, Richard’s scheme came to light. By then she had already siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from the two credit unions.

According to an affidavit from Fred Johnson, chief financial officer of Atlantic Regional, Richard took at least $519,000. However, the court documents note that “the investigation is ongoing, and Atlantic Regional anticipates that even more losses will be discovered.”

Sirois and Keith Rioux, senior vice president of operations for Atlantic Regional, confronted Richard in early October 2010, when she allegedly confessed to her actions.

No court date for the civil trial has been set, and the criminal investigation continues. In the meantime, Atlantic Regional is continuing to look into how much money Richards allegedly embezzled.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]

This report was edited on Jan. 31 to remove unnecessary information about Atlantic Regional’s interactions with Tricorp Federal Credit Union.

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