Woman pleads guilty to bank fraud

Woman pleads guilty to bank fraud

MARQUETTE — An Ishpeming woman accused of writing millions of dollars in bad checks entered a guilty plea Friday in U.S. District Court.

Brooke Lynn Vernier, referred to as Brooke Ferns in court, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The FBI began an investigation in 2012, when Ishpeming Community Federal Credit Union, Peninsula Bank and River Valley Bank discovered a circular check-kiting scheme.

Check-kiting is when a person writes checks amongst several bank accounts in order to create artificially high account balances in one or more accounts.

According to the plea agreement, Vernier wrote $145 million in checks from seven different checking accounts for the three businesses that she owned: Oasis Fuels, Inc., Oasis Operating Inc. and Refresh & Refuel Inc.

Vernier wrote these checks between January and October of 2012.

During that time, it was discovered that the business activity of the three businesses totaled $15 million.

Vernier is said to have wrote these checks because her co-conspirator in the matter, identified in court as her father, was having financial troubles with the businesses.

As part of her plea agreement, Vernier agreed to cooperate with law enforcement on any future investigation into the matter.

She faces a maximum of five years in prison and restitution costs of up to $1.8 million.

Vernier will be sentenced in U.S. District Court November 7th.