Former Shreveport Federal Credit Union CEO pleads guilty in federal court

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(KTAL/KMSS file photo)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The former Chief Executive Officer of a local federal credit union has pleaded guilty to making and using a false document, according to U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown.

Helen Godfrey-Smith, 72, entered her plea before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote.

Helen Godfrey-Smith

Godfrey-Smith was employed by the Shreveport Federal Credit Union (SFCU) from 1983 to 2017 and during much of that time was employed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the SFCU. The SFCU was a Shreveport, Louisiana-based financial institution under the regulation of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

In October 2016, the SFCU, through Godfrey-Smith, entered into an agreement with the United States Department of the Treasury to buy back certain securities that were part of the Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). As part of that process, on December 27, 2016, Godfrey-Smith signed and submitted to the United States Department of the Treasury an Officer’s Certificate which certified that all conditions precedent to the closing had been satisfied.

In reality, SFCU had not met all conditions precedent to closing and had suffered a material adverse effect. Unbeknownst to the United States Department of the Treasury and the NCUA, SFCU was in a financial crisis.

From 2015 through 2017, another individual who was the Chief Financial Officer of SFCU (Individual 1), had been falsifying call reports to the NCUA which included millions of dollars in fictitious fee income.

In addition, Godfrey was creating fictitious entries in the banks records to support the false call reports. This created the illusion that SFCU was profitable when, in fact, the bank was failing. In addition, Individual 1, embezzled approximately $1.5 million from the credit union.

By the time Godfrey-Smith signed the Officer’s Statement, she had become aware of deficiencies at the credit union. Specifically, she had recently investigated and discovered that there were millions of dollars of fictitious entries on SFCU’s general ledger, and the credit union’s books were not balanced.

However, she failed to disclose this information to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and signed the false Officer’s Statement.

In the Spring of 2017, the institution failed and was taken over by regulators from the NCUA and placed into a conservatorship.

An investigation by the NCUA revealed that SFCU had amassed in excess of $10 million in losses by December 2016.

Godfrey-Smith faces a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is set for April 5, 2022.

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