SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The former CEO of a Scranton-area credit union is going to federal prison on bank fraud charges.
Sean Jelen admitted misusing roughly $700,000 of his company’s money to pay off his personal credit card and even throw his wife a birthday party.
Before handing down his sentence Wednesday, the judge said this case could be a movie but no one would ever see it because they wouldn’t believe it.
After saying he was flabbergasted by the degree of manipulation by Sean Jelen, he sentenced Jelen to a total of 70 months in federal prison. That is just shy of six years.
Sean Jelen used a crutch to get into the courthouse Wednesday and once inside federal prosecutors called him a “professional fraudster.”
As the former CEO of the Valor Federal Credit Union, investigators say he took roughly $700,000 using the money to live a life of luxury, taking vacations and even buying a $20,000 grandfather clock.
“He actually took a strong, healthy financial institution and in three years time, flushed it in the toilet,” Michael Walser said.
A number of Jelen’s former employees came to hear the sentence he received.
Michael Walser is the former controller.
“I just wish it was a longer sentence. I don’t think 70 months, was it 70 months, I don’t think it’s enough for what he did!” Walser said.
In court, Jelen talked for nearly an hour, rambling on at times but apologizing for what he did.
He asked for leniency given a medical condition and the fact that he has a young daughter.
Jelen said he considered his former employees to be like family but they don’t agree with that statement.
“It was a little hard for some of us to sit there and listen about how much he cared about his employees because he took numerous steps to make our lives difficult including canceling some of our vacation time,” former employee Cheryl Dehaut said.
Investigators say Jelen created bogus contracts, forged legal documents, impersonated his own doctor and even created fake credit union board members to cover his tracks.
The judge said Jelen even used “voice modulation” equipment to bring those fake board members to life in meetings.
“I don’t know what happened with him. I really don’t. I don’t understand what happened in his life because the first two years I worked for him, I thought everything was fine!” Walser said.
Sean Jelen will also have to serve four years on probation when he’s released.
The judge also ordered him to pay back nearly $700,000.