By David Fleet
On March 25, a state-appointed conservator from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced that Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) will merge with the Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union (CBCCU). The new MSUFCU members from the CBCCU may continue to transact business at both former locations, 8055 Ortonville Road, Clarkston and 4 South St., Ortonville.
The merger comes after the CBCCU’s former chief financial officer, Michael LaJoice, walked into the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Pontiac on Jan. 6 and confessed to embezzling roughly $20 million from CBCCU during the past 12 years of his employment at the Independence Township branch of the CBCCU. Two days later, after detectives confirmed the credibility of his statements and the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office authorized the warrant, the OCSO announced LaJoice had been charged with 14 counts of embezzling $100,000 or more. LaJoice is awaiting an April 4 arraignment in Oakland County Circuit Court.
April Clobes, president and CEO of MSUFCU, could not comment on the pending embezzlement case, however welcomed the members from CBCCU.
“The CBCCU sites will be rebranded and there will be integration work over the next few months,” said Clobes on Wednesday in an interview with The Citizen. “By June the new signs will be in place. The merger is a good solution. If no other credit union had stepped up, the CBCCU would have to be liquidated.”
“We will continue to serve the community and our new members of the credit union,” she said. “Members’ funds are secure here and we welcome any municipality that has questions to contact us.”
Following the embezzlement report the State of Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Patrick M. McPharlin ordered CBCCU to be placed into conservatorship and appointed the NCUA as the conservator on Jan. 13. The NCUA ran the CBCCU overseeing the operation until the merger last week.
John Fairbanks, NCUA public affairs specialist, responded to the announcement.
“The two agencies worked together to address issues affecting the credit union’s safety and soundness and determined that merging the Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union into Michigan State University Federal Credit Union was in the best interests of the members,” said Fairbanks in a press release.
The MSUFCU headquarters are in East Lansing with two branches in Oakland County, Auburn Hills, 6265 Five Points Dr. and Oakland University Credit Union, 102 Oakland Center Road, Rochester. The credit union was established in 1937 and in 2015 reported $3.03 billion in assets and 208,650 members which include about 35,000 in Oakland County. In 2013 the MSUFCU merged with Charlotte Michigan-based Eaton County Educational Credit Union. The ECECU had served the employees and pensioners of educational institutions located in Eaton County and employees. ECECU had more than 4,000 members, with more than $30 million in assets and nine employees.
At the time of the merger, the CBCCU which was chartered in 1957, listed 8,536 members and assets of $68.5 million. Membership is available to everyone who lives or works in Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Lapeer and Livingston counties.
Clobes welcomes the new relationships with customers and is excited to provide a new level of service.
“At the time of the merger there were 17 CBCCU employees,” said Clobes, “Some employees sought other employment, which I totally understand given the circumstances. However, effective March 25 all the employees are employed by us and are going through training and will be matched to our needs. A few more employees may actually be needed for the Oakland County locations.”
“We’ll keep the CBCCU branches operating in Oakland County and strive to enhance our presence in the area,” she said. “Since we were much larger than CBCCU we have many financial products and services to offer.”
www.msufcu.org or 1-800-678-4968
By David Fleet