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BILLINGS - A former bookkeeper and chief financial officer of a mortgage company has pleaded not guilty to three federal fraud counts.

Angela Hakala is charged with one count of bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding investors of First Citizen's Bank in Billings. She pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

First Citizens Bank provided a $19.5 million line of credit to Intermountain Mortgage to finance mortgages.

Hakala is charged with falsely telling a First Citizen's Bank accountant from March 2004 through October 2006 that Intermountain Mortgage expected to receive money from mortgage sales that had already been paid.

The wire fraud charges accuse Hakala of soliciting $525,000 from Intermountain Mortgage board member James Sindelar, telling him it would be used for construction loans and closing costs when the indictment says she knew it was being used for operating expenses.

Intermountain Mortgage laid off workers in February 2006 after announcing that a major amount of money had been lost. The company later closed and sold most of its assets.

Eighteen months ago, before the missing money was discovered, Western Security Bank and its holding company, Glacier Bancorp Inc., of Kalispell, purchased First Citizens Bank.

Western Security has filed a lawsuit against First Interstate's accountant in December, claiming the firm at least six times failed to properly audit Intermountain. Western Security alleges the value of First Citizens was overstated by $7.2 million when they bought the bank.

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