ROANOKE, Va. – A new teller at Freedom First CU began stealing from members’ accounts within a month after she was hired.

Twenty-two-year-old Rechele Petti became a teller at the credit union last June. Within about a month she began to funnel money from members’ accounts into the account of a friend – draining almost $85,000 before being discovered, prosecutors said.

Petti pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement and four counts of forgery this week.

Prosecutors said Petti convinced a friend that she had received a large cash inheritance and claimed she was restricted from transferring it to her credit union account because she was an employee. The friend, who has not been charged, allowed Petti access to her account.

Petti admitted forging transfer documents and money orders in order to take $84,216 from two members’ accounts across 18 transfers.

She spent some of the cash on a Chevrolet Camaro, a motorcycle and personal use, prosecutors said. The scheme was brought to light after the two members complained about missing funds.

The credit union recovered $35,000 by freezing Petti’s account, but about $48,000 remains unrecovered.


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