Teller pleads to draining dead man's savings, bad cover up, new theft while out on bail!

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June 12, 2016

What ever happened to that an acronym R.I.P. Not anymore. This is becoming more prevalent. Our records are, for the most part, public. And now with our personal information out there, worst case scenarios are popping up. This comes from a story in

“MUSKEGON, MI – Michelle Renee Crouch, a former teller, now stands convicted of six felonies in three different fraud-related cases - including draining a dead customer's bank account of more than $100,000, creating a false document to cover that up after her arrest, and stealing from another customer at a new credit-union job while free on bond.

Crouch, 52, of Norton Shores pleaded no contest as charged Friday, June 10 to these counts:

Dead man's money –

1.)  Larceny of more than $20,000.

2.)  Identity theft.

Prosecutor fakeout attempt –

3.)  Uttering and publishing a forged document.

4.)  Identity theft.

5.)  Using a computer to commit a crime.

Try, try again –

6.)  Larceny of between $1,000 and $20,000.

Muskegon County Chief Circuit Judge William C. Marietti committed to cap her minimum sentence at 20 months in the Michigan Department of Corrections. Her maximum prison sentence in the most serious felony conviction, uttering and publishing, is set by law at 14 years. A parole board eventually will decide whether she serves the minimum or a longer sentence.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but results in conviction, and judges treat it as a guilty plea at sentencing. It's allowed when a criminal defendant faces possible civil lawsuits, as in these cases.

In the original case, Crouch was accused of draining more than $100,000 from the savings account of a customer of PNC Bank in Muskegon Township, where she worked as a teller, without authorization. She nearly emptied the account of Kevin J. Bolema days after he died in June 2015 while on a hunting trip in the Upper Peninsula.

Crouch's defense in that case was that Bolema was a friend of hers and that, just before he left on the hunting trip, he authorized an interest-free loan to her to help her pay her mortgage.

The second case stemmed from Crouch's creation of what prosecutors said was a forged loan document, with Bolema's purported signature on it dated just before his death, in a botched attempt to exonerate herself with the prosecutor's office.

Prosecutors said she created that document on her home computer early this year, months after she was charged with larceny.

Crouch gave the seeming loan document to her defense attorney, Matthew Kacel, in February 2016. The lawyer handed it on to the prosecutor's office.

Prosecutors did not accuse Kacel of doing anything wrong.

In the third case, she was charged with stealing more than $10,000 from the account of a customer starting in December 2015 at First General Credit Union in Norton Shores.

The credit union hired her after she left the PNC job last year, unaware of the earlier larceny case against her, according to prosecutors. She was free on bond at the time of the new theft.

That second theft came to light only after an MLive story in March 2016 about the first case alerted Crouch's employers to her background and prompted an internal investigation, prosecutors have said.”


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Phil Liso, Contact, (562) 322-7376