NORTON SHORES (WWJ/AP) – An appeals court won’t upset a 6½-year prison sentence for a woman who stole nearly $2 million from a western Michigan credit union.

Kathryn Sue Simmerman worked her way up from teller to chief executive at Shoreline Federal Credit Union in Norton Shores, near Muskegon, before the embezzlement was discovered in 2014.

Her lawyers argued that Simmerman’s sentencing guidelines were too high. But a federal appeals court said Thursday that the enhancements were appropriate.

The court says Simmerman’s embezzlement threatened the health of the credit union. The court says the amount of money was equal to 86 percent of Shoreline’s earnings over its 62-year history.

Investigators said Simmerman deposited cash into accounts held by family members and cooked the books to fool auditors.

In a court filing, prosecutors said “misplaced trust” by others at the credit union contributed to Simmerman’s ability to steal so much money without getting caught earlier. Many co-workers felt “sheer disbelief of what she did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler said.

Defense attorney Don Davis, a former prosecutor, acknowledged that Simmerman stole a “jaw-dropping” amount of money. Insurance covered 70 percent of the credit union’s loss.

The credit union, 40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids, serves 4,100 members.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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