Professor Stephan Clyburn of West Chester University talked on behalf of his wife, who has been convicted of thievery and will be serving one to seven years in a state prison. Clyburn has been teaching in the political science department since he was hired in 2004. He taught classes the day after his wife, Anne, was arrested, he taught classes after she was convicted, and he taught class the day he learned she was moved from jail to Muncy state prison to carry out her sentence.
“I’m scared for her,” Clyburn said wiping away tears. “I fear that she won’t survive [in prison].”
Anne Clyburn, 44, of Exton, is a former CEO credit union executive. She was hired in 2000 for financial reasons for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 Federal Credit Union (UFCW), in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Stephan said that when Anne was hired, the union was losing money and was on the verge of being shut down. The UFCW oversees food credit labors such as ACME.
The credit union maintained profits each year Anne was employed with the company. Since Anne was fired in Feb. 2007, the union has lost thousands of dollars, according to her husband Stephan.
The government audits the credit unions every year. During the nearly six and a half years that Anne worked for UFCW, the PA credit union performed 12 audits of reports from the credit union. Stephan said that in the yearly audits, and surprise audits, they “show no wrong doing.”
Two months after she was fired from UFCW local, Anne filed a claim of discrimination charge on April 11, 2007, it was received on the 18th by the Pa. Human Relations Commission. The claim listed Anne’s gender to be the cause of the discrimination, from one of her employees. The date listed of the discrimination is the whole duration that Anne worked at the UFCW.
The following year, April 2008, Anne was charged with alleged crimes of stealing money from the credit union. Stephan said their lives have spiraled down hill from the time they filed the discrimination claim. He said Anne has lost her career, her reputation and her freedom.
When a person is charged with a crime involving fraud, they are banned from working in a credit union. Anne has not been banned. The federal government may also take legal action against the individual by prosecuting them for the alleged crime. The Clyburns have not been contacted by the IRS. The federal government has not taken legal action. Stephan said that it simply “hasn’t happened.”
Stephan said the judge did not allow the discrimination charge into court as evidence. The Human Relations Commission later dropped Anne’s claim.
Stephan asked, “Why would we sue them if she stole?” He said a bank robber does not steal and then sue the bank.
After Anne was terminated from her job, an “outside” audit was performed, leading to the allegations of her theft. As published in a Daily Local News article, according to authorities Anne Clyburn used creative bookkeeping practices to the theft of $32,469 while she was employed at the UFCW.
The Clyburns tell a different version of events, against Anne’s alleged “bogus crime.”
Anne, as a staff member of the union, was given bonuses throughout her employment at UFCW. According to Stephan, the money that Anne was given as a bonus was later claimed to not have been given to her rightfully. Over time, the amount resulted in more than $30,000.
While employed at UFCW, Anne witnessed illegal activities allegedly committed by executive members of the union. She told her husband she witnessed executive members of the union deposit checks into their personal accounts, then write a check in that amount, and donate the money to a political campaign.
Political campaigns that receive donations from companies, including the credit union, would have to report the donation.
Anne was asked by a board member to sign a document, stating that she would not discuss what she had seen or heard while working at the union. This was in Feb. 2007, when Anne was told she was not needed for her job anymore. The document said she would receive three months of her salary. She did not sign the document.
“It’s the best kept secret . . . everybody knows about it,” Clyburn said, after explaining the illegal activities his wife witnessed.
At the time, Anne filed a complaint with the bank, making copies of the checks.
Stephan, as a political science professor, realized the activities occurring were illegal and encouraged Anne to file a report. It was not until May 2009 that Anne filed this as a report to the FBI.
The first time the couple was separated, 21 years into their marriage, was when Anne went willingly to the Plymouth Meeting Police Department. This was two months after learning there was a warrant out for her arrest. They have now been married for the past 24 years.
“We help people all the time . . . the people that are there for us are powerless to help,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn told his wife to resign from her job after how she was treated in the credit union.
“We did what law enforcement tells us to do, we came forward,” Clyburn said in regards to his wife reporting the illegal activities she witnessed at work.
“We haven’t given up yet . . .” Clyburn said. He says his wife regrets not quitting her job after she witnessed the alleged illegal activities.
The trial of Anne Clyburn occurred two years after her arrest. In Sept. 2008 Anne was offered a “package deal” that her charges could be dropped by signing an ARD. She signed the document thinking the charges would be dismissed. The prosecutor later informed Anne that she was not eligible and the charges against her remained.
This was the first offer that that Anne had agreed to sign. Stephan said they did not take any other offers because they knew she was innocent.
During the trial, Anne represented herself, unable to find a new attorney by the time of her trial. She waived her rights to have a lawyer represent her.
Friends, colleagues and students of Stephan attended Anne’s sentencing in support of him and his wife. Clyburn said his wife was so happy to see everyone there in support of her. Clyburn said his wife never shed a tear about her alleged crime, nor did she cry when she was placed in to a local jail.
Anne was convicted by a jury in July 2010 of multiple related charges of theft. She was sentenced in early Sept. by a Montgomery County Judge, William R. Carpenter, and is currently serving her one to seven year sentence.
“I was flabbergasted. Students who observed the trial were just as shocked as I was,” Clyburn said. The jury took three hours in deliberation.
“They took her away (to jail) . . . without bail. Took her away and I stood there alone,” Clyburn said after his wife was found guilty.
Stephan heard the news that his wife was moved from jail to the state prison on September. 23. He said he cried all day and did not sleep all night.
Stephan recalled someone asking him why there are no good people in the world. “I think this is why,” Stephan said about his wife. “They do something good and they get destroyed.”
In regards to his wife’s arrest, conviction, and prison placement, Stephan would tell anyone, “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu