PITTSFIELD -- A head teller at Greylock Federal Credit Union’s branch on Kellogg Street has been charged with embezzling $58,000 and misleading police by claiming she had been extorted.
Felisa Kazimierczak, 43, of Adams, claims she got a note threatening her 15-year-old daughter with harm unless the money was handed off at a specific location.
Kazimierczak was arrested on Sunday and arraigned on Monday in Central Berkshire District Court and pleaded not guilty to embezzlement from a bank, false reporting of a crime and witness intimidation (for allegedly misleading police). It wasn’t clear on Monday if the cash had been recovered.
Member finances intact
On Monday, Greylock Federal Credit Union issued a statement saying it was a victim of criminal activity and that it is "assisting state and local law enforcement officials in their investigations."
"Fortunately, Greylock is protected and fully insured so that the criminal activity did not impact Greylock’s financial strength and stability," the credit union said in its statement.
Whether Kazimierczak is still working for Greylock wasn’t clear on Monday. Greylock officials declined to comment about it.
Kazimierczak, who has no criminal record, according to her lawyer, Jill Sheldon, is facing up to 15 years in prison on the embezzlement charge alone. Sheldon asked that her client be released on personal recognizance.
Kazimierczak has held her bank teller position for 13 years and has family and roots in the county, Sheldon told District Court Judge Fredric D. Rutberg at the arraignment.
"She denies this is a false report," Sheldon said. "She’s fighting this."
Assistant District Attorney Kelly Mulcahy Kemp asked bail be set at $10,000 cash or surety bond to guarantee Kazimierczak would return to court.
Rutberg agreed to release Kazimierczak on personal recognizance. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for March 23.
Last Thursday evening, Pittsfield Police went to the credit union on Kellogg Street to investigate the report of a suspicious note on Kazimierczak’s car.
The note "expressed knowledge" concerning Kazimierczak, her family, her duties at the bank, and threatened to harm the woman’s 15-year-old daughter if she did not follow instructions, according to a police report.
The note instructed Kazimierczak to place a large amount of cash reserved for several off-premises ATMs into a single bag and take the money to a certain location.
The note also warned her not to call police. The police weren’t contacted until after Kazimierczak allegedly gave the money to the extortionists.
Police said Kazimierczak told them two different stories as to how the drop-off instructions came to her. Initially, she said the instructions came via a second note found inside her car. She later said she was contacted on a bank phone, according to the report.
"Although later retracted, there was no second note by Felisa Kazimierczak’s own admission, further suggesting there was no actual extortion but rather an inadequately planned embezzlement," stated Pittsfield Police Detective Timothy J. Koenig in his report.
Police say they have surveillance video that shows no one went near the woman’s car that day.
David Kazimierczak, Felisa’s husband, watched the same video and said he clearly saw a man near his wife’s car, something he said he pointed out to investigators.
According to the police report, Felisa Kazimierczak told police that while driving to the drop-off location, she "got mad" and removed some of the money from the bag because she "didn’t want whoever was doing this to get all this money." Kazimierczak placed her cell phone and the two notes in with the money, she said.
Investigators went to the spot where Kazimierczak said she dropped the money, but found no evidence of a drop-off, the report indicated.
It had snowed that day, but there were no footprints, tire tracks or an indentation where the bag would have been, according to the report.
Sheldon said David Kazimierczak picked up the couple’s daughter after they received the note.
The family was too scared to go home afterward, according to Kazimierczak’s lawyer, and stayed in a hotel.
On Sunday, Kazimierczak spoke with police for a second time. After a 3 1/2-hour interview, she was arrested, said Sheldon.