Longtime Berkshire County banker faces 9 charges in alleged kickback scheme
PITTSFIELD -- A former commercial loan officer with long ties to the Berkshire County banking community has been charged with tax fraud for his alleged part in a kickback scheme involving a Pittsfield-area businessman.
Michael Dicenzo, a Pittsfield native who worked at Greylock Federal Credit Union from 2004 through 2009, is facing nine criminal charges, including four counts of tax fraud, four counts of receipt of money through transactions of a credit union with intent to defraud, and one count of making false statements to federal officials, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.
Dicenzo is scheduled to appear before Judge Mark G. Mastroianni at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23, in U.S. District Court in Springfield. Dicenzo is represented by Attorney Alan J. Black of Springfield, who did not return a telephone call Friday seeking comment.
If convicted of any of those charges, Dicenzo will be required to forfeit to the federal government any property or proceeds that he obtained directly or indirectly from the results of the alleged violations.
The name of the local businessman is not provided in the court documents. He is listed only as a "Pittsfield-area businessman" who owned and operated five construction and real estate development companies that each had loan accounts at Greylock that Dicenzo supervised.
In a written statement, Greylock's Executive Vice President John L. Bissell said the county's largest credit union cooperated with authorities during the investigation.
"For Greylock, this incident is nearly five years in the past," Bissell stated. "We discovered and reported the fraud, and we cooperated with authorities to complete a thorough investigation. Insurance has covered most of this loss and we are entering into a restitution agreement with the former lender for most of the rest.
"We have invested significant resources in ensuring that this type of incident does not happen again," Bissell said. "Our overnight procedures are very stringent. We have intensified our attention to risk management because of our experiences and because we recognize that crimes like these are impacting the industry as a whole.
"These types of crimes have impacted credit unions and banks both in our region and around the country -- it is an industrywide challenge."
According to court documents, Dicenzo authorized 20 loans and several loan modifications to the businessman and his companies in violation of Greylock's loan approval, loan aggregation, loan modification, and documentation policies. By circumventing the credit union's policies, Dicenzo provided the businessman and his companies with funds "far in excess" of what the businessman and those entities could reasonable receive or repay. Dicenzo authorized these loans and loan modifications between March 1, 2005, and Sept. 5, 2008, according to court documents.
In 2007, Dicenzo was promoted from assistant vice president to president of business banking at Greylock, according to Eagle files.
In exchange for improperly authorizing the loans, Dicenzo received money, property and benefits from the businessman, including check payments, the free use of a home, and the free use of a BMW automobile, court documents indicate.
From 2006 to 2009, Dicenzo deposited $134,773 from the businessman's various businesses into a GFCU checking account that he opened in the name of a home design company.
Between 2007 and 2010, Dicenzo filed personal federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service for the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, which contained "false and fraudulent" profits or losses from business for the home design company, by intentionally not reporting the funds from two organizations and the businessman's companies that he had deposited into that checking account.
In March 2010, Dicenzo falsely stated to IRS criminal investigation agents that the loans he authorized for the businessman were "properly collaterized"; that he authorized loans for one of the businesses to help small companies "stay in business to benefit the community"; that he rented property from the businessman for $2,000 per month; and that the businessman wrote him checks to the GFCU checking account for work that his wife was doing on the businessman's newly constructed home, according to court documents.
Dicenzo's roots in the Berkshire banking community date back to 1977, according to Eagle files. Dicenzo joined Greylock after spending 10 years as a commercial lender at Legacy Banks, where he helped underwrite and manage Berkshire County's largest portfolio of U.S. Small Business Administration loans during that decade.
In addition to Legacy and Greylock, Dicenzo also held commercial lending positions at Berkshire Bank & Trust, the First Agricultural Bank and with MountainOne Financial Partners. He served as vice president of commercial lending for Hoosac Bank and Williamstown Savings Bank, both affiliates of MountainOne.
In the community, Dicenzo was active in UNICO of Pittsfield, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the Jimmy Fund Council of the Berkshires. He was elected financial secretary of UNICO's Pittsfield Chapter in 2005, and served as acting president of the Berkshire County Chapter of the March of Dimes in 2000. He is also a former president of the Kiwanis Club.
According to court documents, Dicenzo also supervised accounts at Greylock for the Pittsfield chapter of a social service organization, and another local social and service organization that are not named.
In 2002, Dicenzo was one of the featured speakers in a forum hosted by the Berkshire Enterprise Center titled, "What Your Banker Can Do for Your Business When You Are Not Looking for a Loan."
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