Ex-credit union CEO pleads guilty

Former executive admits falsifying records, awaits sentencing

Mark E. Kasson, the former chief executive of Credit Union Group, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of making false entries in the company’s financial records.

Kasson, 38, of Lawrence, appeared before Senior Judge Sam Crow in U.S. District Court in Topeka, two weeks after Kasson had been charged with the crime.

In making the plea, Kasson admitted to falsifying the company’s records to show that $3 million in loans had been sold to other credit unions to make it look like Credit Union Group was no longer responsible for the money.

He made the fake entry Jan. 10, 2006, at a time that the Kansas Department of Credit Unions and National Credit Union Administration Board would be reviewing the company’s records.

Kasson faces 30 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend penalties “at the low end” of applicable federal sentencing guidelines.

Kasson is free on $50,000 bond as he awaits sentencing Aug. 21.

Jim Cross, spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said an investigation would assess Kasson’s motives, past history and a number of other factors before prosecutors make a specific sentencing recommendation.

Kasson had been the top executive of Credit Union Group, which is affiliated with Free State Credit Union in Lawrence, until March 2006.

At that time, the Kansas Department of Credit Unions took control of Credit Union Group under a conservatorship that managed the company’s finances until this month.

Kasson’s case was one of the reasons that the state took control of Credit Union Group, officials said.

Under Kasson’s plea agreement, he agreed to no longer work for financial institutions without the government’s permission.

Kasson’s attorney, Jason Hans, said Thursday that he had no comment about the plea agreement.