Saturday September 8, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A Pittsfield woman has been indicted for allegedly stealing about $200,000 from Greylock Federal Credit Union while she was an employee, according to court documents and credit union officials.

Janine M. Shepard, 47, no longer works for Greylock, but had been a teller supervisor at its Merrill Road branch. She is charged with single counts of larceny over $250 and making false entries into corporation records.

Recently indicted by a Berkshire grand jury, Shepard will be arraigned at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court.

According to the indictment, the alleged acts occurred over the span of about two years between Jan. 1, 2010 and Feb. 18 of this year.

Greylock fired both Shepard and a co-worker responsible for checking her work shortly after the credit union uncovered the situation and reported it to law enforcement authorities, said President and CEO Marilyn Sperling. Shepard had been employed at Greylock for 13 years, according to Sperling.

According to Sperling, Shep ard allegedly falsified documents at Greylock while she gradually took money from available cash, then "manipulated" and "lied" to another employee who was responsible for checking her work through Greylock’s dual control procedures, which she said are a standard practice throughout the banking industry.

"We noticed some changes in her professional behavior, and decided to do a full-blown audit," Sperling said.


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"We uncovered it at that time. We notified the police the same day, and we’ve been cooperating with them very closely throughout the investigation."

Sperling declined to say what Shepard took the money for.

Shepard is the second teller at a Greylock branch to be charged with stealing money from the county’s largest credit union in the last seven months. In March, police charged 43-year-old Felisa D. Kazim ierczak of Adams with embezzling close to $60,000. Kazim ierczak, who was the head teller at the Greylock branch on Kellogg Street, is charged with embezzlement from a bank, false reporting of a crime, witness intimidation, and kidnapping.

It is alleged that she misled police by telling authorities she had received a note threatening her 15-year-old daughter with harm unless the money was dropped off at a specific location. Kazimierczak is also alleged to have coerced a co-worker into acting as a lookout while she went to deliver the cash at the fake drop-off point.

Kazimierczak, whose employ ment at Greylock was also terminated, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her case has been placed on the May 2013 Superior Court trial list.

Sperling said fraud has be come an increasingly prevalent crime at financial institutions.

"These are industry-wide trends," she said. "We have a sold risk management and internal audit function in place. We had even doubled our efforts prior to these incidents. If you go online and look at the embezzlements that are taking place at financial institutions, it’s a growing problem."

Financial institution braud cases, which include embezzlement, resulted in 521 informations and indictments, and 429 convictions of criminals in cases that were pursued by the FBI in fiscal 2011, according to the bureau’s statistics.

Sperling said Greylock has changed its security procedures since the Shepard incident. But even with security procedures in place, she said it’s hard to prevent these incidents if employees are determined to carry them out.

"We have the necessary controls in place," she said. "[But] you take someone who is hell-bent on being dishonest, and they’ll find a way."

Sperling said she was "disappointed" and "saddened" that two relatively similar incidents have happened at Greylock in such a short time span.

"I never would have expected something like this to happen from this individual," she said, referring to Shepard. "No one ever expects another person to steal."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow