Impact isn't over, despite guilty verdict
A jury verdict has brought closure to at least part of a tale of stunning greed and criminal conduct in our community.
William Liddle and his wife, Rhonda, were found guilty Friday of dozens of criminal counts involving fraudulent loans that resulted in devastating losses for the AEA Federal Credit Union in Yuma and its eventual collapse and takeover by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
Liddle was head of the AEA business lending division and approved millions of dollars in risky loans in return for kickbacks valued at more than a million dollars. When the loans couldn’t be repaid, the credit union was left on the hook for the losses.
Details of the schemes came from one of the key borrowers, Frank Ruiz, who agreed to testify against the Liddles in hope of a lesser sentence for his role in the fraud.
It took less than two weeks to lay out the evidence to the jury. After two days of deliberation, jurors found the couple guilty of a total of 90 counts involving fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Sentencing will not come until May 21.
The harm done by the criminality of the conspirators continues to be felt as the credit union, a trusted financial institution in our community for decades, tries to recover under the conservatorship of the NCUA. While the assets of customers are protected and guaranteed up to $250,000, the credit union continues to be troubled due to its losses.
The hope is that the credit union will eventually be shored up enough to restore it to private ownership so it can continue its many years of service to the community.
While the direct cause of the collapse has been answered in the course of the Liddles’ trial, it remains unclear how such large-scale fraud could go unnoticed by those responsible for the oversight of the credit union. Perhaps answers will be forthcoming at some point in the future.