SCRANTON -- The former CEO of a credit union in Scranton was sent to prison Wednesday for swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the credit union.
Several of his former employees showed up to court hoping for a hefty sentence.
Sean Jelen was hired as CEO of Tobyhanna Federal Credit Union in 2011. It then became Valor Federal Credit Union and it is now PenFed Credit Union.
Jelen's former employees believe the credit unions' latest merger is due to the trouble he caused there.
Those former employees came out in force to see their old boss go to federal prison.
There were high fives and hugs outside the federal courthouse in Scranton as a group of old coworkers heard the sentence for their former boss at Valor Federal Credit Union.
Sean Jelen will serve 70 months, nearly six years behind bars for bank fraud.
Most of the employees who came to the sentencing don't work for the credit union, now called PenFed, anymore.
"I was the controller, and you can read between the lines, but, he laid me off, laid me off," said Mike Walser.
Jelen walked into court with the help of a crutch. In a nearly hour-long address to the judge, Jelen said his health was a reason why he shouldn't go to jail. Jelen suffers from Crohn's disease.
He apologized for swindling more than $700,000 from Valor, something his employees say likely led to the credit union's demise.
"He actually took a strong, healthy, financial institution and in three years' time, flushed it in the toilet," Walser said.
"I was fortunate enough to get another job with another credit union and I'm very happy to be there but a number of my good friends have had to leave the area, have lost their jobs, you know, at Valor, and have had to start their life all over again," said former employee Cheryl Dehaut. "And you know, there's a lot of people that I work with now that have just suffered immense loss; you can't even imagine the hurt that he has inflicted on people."
During his speech, Jelen never explained why he stole the money to pay personal bills, throw parties, and hold a golf tournament. Instead, he praised his work as a manager and said he felt like his employees were family. The employees didn't buy it.
"He was the type of man, besides what he said in court, not very patient with the employees. And so that was a little hard for some of us to sit there and listen about how much he cared about his employees. You know, he made numerous steps to make our lives difficult including canceling some of our vacation time," Dehaut said.
Jelen asked to report to prison after undergoing a scheduled surgery next week. The judge denied that request and he started serving his sentence immediately. After he's released, Jelen will be under supervision for another four years and must start to pay back nearly $700,000 still owed to the credit union.