PITTSFIELD - An Adams woman was sentenced to four years in jail Wednesday after she admitted to staging a hoax in order to steal close to $60,000 from the credit union where she was the head teller.
Felisa Kazimierczak, 44, told a coworker at the Greylock Federal Credit Union branch on Kellogg Street on March 1, 2012, that she had found a note on her car that threatened to harm her teenage daughter unless Kazimierczak dropped off a large amount of cash at a location in Lanesborough.
In reality, police said, there was no threat and the story actually was a cover-up of an "inadequately planned embezzlement," according to police.
Kazimierczak loaded cash that was earmarked for area ATMs into a bag and coerced her coworker, who was also a friend, to act as a lookout while she went to deliver the cash at the fake drop-off point, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Richard M. Locke said. The co- worker, Tracie Herrick, sat by a window at the bank for an hour, Locke said.
"I never got over what happened to this day," a distraught Herrick said in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday. She said she sat waiting for Kazimierczak to return, wondering if she or her family were in danger.
When Kazimierczak returned to the credit union, she told Herrick that she only dropped off part of the money.
During the ensuing investigation by the Pittsfield police, a bag of cash was found in Kazimierczak's car with $58,000 missing from what she had pulled from the vault to give the would-be robbers, according to Locke.
A search by police did not turn up the money or any indications it had been dropped off, and the investigation soon turned toward Kazimierczak.
Just days before the caper, the credit union had announced that there would a systemwide audit. Locke said Kazimierczak began moving money around from ATM to ATM shortly after the audit was announced. Additionally, $ 20,000 was found hidden in a tube that is used in an ATM for purchasing stamps and doesn't regularly hold cash, he said.
Kazimierczak, through her attorney, Elizabeth M. Quigley, said that she hadn't planned on taking that money, but had instead used it as a backup for one of the ATMs that wasn't unloaded on a regular basis. She did admit to altering credit union paperwork related to that money.
When investigators executed a search warrant at Kazimierczak's home in Adams, they discovered thousands of used scratch- off lottery tickets. Police said they were told by the woman's friends that she liked to gamble at casinos. Locke said that although Kazimierczak was making $ 45,000 a year at her job, the family had a large amount of debt.
The $58,000 was never recovered, but the credit union has said it was insured for the loss. The credit union has since invested "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to update internal security measures, according to Paul Marchetti, Greyock's senior vice president and chief risk officer.
He said Kazimierczak betrayed her employer and its customers.
Kazimierczak pleaded guilty to five charges: kidnapping, larceny over $250, misleading a police officer, making a false crime report and making false entries into corporate books.
Quigley said her client was taking responsibility for her actions, had never been in trouble with the law before and was a "model citizen" and mother.
"This is a situation where a good person does a bad act," the attorney told the court.
Judge John A. Agostini told the defendant that the crime left "an unsavory taste" in his mouth and that it was particularly egregious that she brought her daughter and her friend into the situation. He ordered Kazimierczak to serve a total of four years at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. The sentence was in line with a joint recommendation between the DA's office and Quigley.
One count of embezzlement from a bank was dismissed at the prosecutor's request.
A tearful Kazimierczak, who had been free on personal recognizance, was handcuffed and led away by court officers.
After court, Locke told The Eagle that "this investigation should be used as a model" because everything was done right, from preserving the crime scene to interviewing the suspect.
"They knew the case better than she did," he said of the detectives. He gave credit to Pittsfield Police Detective Capt. Patrick F. Barry and Detective Timothy Keonig.
Barry also praised Keonig's " outstanding" work on the case as well as the "hundreds of hours" put in by the rest of the detective unit and crime scene investigators. He also praised the work of the patrol officers, Locke's prosecution of the case and the help of Lanesborough, Cheshire and Adams police.