THOMASVILLE — Three former Thomasville business affiliates were sentenced to federal prison Monday after entering guilty pleas in U.S. District Court.

Acting U.S. Attorney G.F. “Pete” Peterman III said Joseph Pogue, Jean Pogue and Cassandra Montgomery were sentenced before Judge Hugh Lawson in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Thomasville Division.

The three were charged with conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud and money laundering.

Jean Pogue, former manager of the Unified Singers Credit Union, and Joseph Pogue, who was also associated with the business, were sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment without parole and three years of supervised release.

Montgomery, daughter of Jean and Joseph Pogue, was sentenced to 40 months of imprisonment without parole and three years of supervised release. All three were also ordered to pay $1.3 million restitution to the National Credit Union Administration.

According to the plea agreement, the Pogues led a conspiracy to use their positions of trust at the credit union to perpetrate the fraud. Montgomery also participated in the conspiracy and received money from the credit union under fraudulent pretenses.

In April 2002, the credit union was examined by the NCUA and found to be insolvent. The credit union was permanently closed, and its assets were liquidated by the NCUA.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service investigated the case for about two years. “

The IRS will continue to diligently investigate and bring to justice those who compromise the integrity of our financial institutions,” said Rebecca A. Sparkman, IRS Criminal Investigation special agent in charge of the case.

Jean Pogue was manager of Unified Singers Credit Union from 1987 until April 2002. Her husband also acted on behalf of the credit union as “community liaison,” soliciting new customers and investors, and attending to official business and meetings concerning the credit union.

Montgomery worked for Monroe-Pogue Insurance, a business located in the same single-family house and office as the credit union.

During the conspiracy, all three “actively participated in and directly benefited from a scheme to defraud the credit union, to launder the proceeds through various accounts at the credit union, and to spend them on themselves,” the agreement states.

For example, the three used the name and identity of a deceased local woman, Elizabeth Taylor, to conduct fraudulent transactions at the credit union. The agreement said they also invented fictitious names like “Clarence Strong,” “Joe Long,” “Douglas Monroe,” “Brenda Wright” and “Harry Zeigler” to steal from the credit union through fraudulent accounts.

In addition, they used the names of living individuals, businesses and churches in Thomasville to obtain fraudulent loans. Victims listed in the indictment include Providence Missionary Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church, Hadley’s Funeral Home, Annie Jones and Derrick Mike.

All told, the plea agreement said the three obtained approximately $300,000 in proceeds from the credit union and caused a total loss of $1.3 million to the NCUA — and ultimately to U.S. taxpayers.

According to the plea agreement, on July 17, 2000, the defendants misappropriated $100,000 in credit union funds — the proceeds of a CD sold to First Union Bank of Atlanta. The funds were transferred to an account controlled by the Pogues called the “Winbush Group,” named after Joseph Pogue’s deceased grandfather.

“Thereafter the defendants spent the entire $100,000 for personal expenditures, such as a new Chevrolet Tahoe, the phone bill of Monroe-Pogue Insurance, the paychecks of Monroe-Pogue employees and numerous other personal expenses,” the agreement states.

Jean Pogue also altered credit union computer records during the NCUA investigation in hopes of covering up the fraud, according to the agreement.

Each of the three defendants signed the plea agreement, dated Aug. 6. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane prosecuted the case.

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