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PITTSFIELD — With a new court filing, a loan fraud defendant lays further groundwork for a claim that he is too sick to go to jail.

Rather than having been sentenced Wednesday for bilking about $4 million from Greylock Federal Credit Union, Michael DiCenzo got another 60-day extension. But, the judge handling the case signaled this week that even if DiCenzo cannot get himself to the U.S. District Court in Springfield in October, he might be sentenced by videoconference.

DiCenzo has claimed that, due to his weakened condition, he cannot yet participate in remote sessions but is "working to make such arrangements."

This week's postponement is at least the 17th time that sentencing has been put off for DiCenzo, six years after he entered a plea. Prosecutors say DiCenzo steered millions in improper loans to borrower Jeffrey Pierce, and received kickbacks. DiCenzo also admits that he stole from two nonprofit groups.

Pierce was sentenced in August to 20 months in federal prison.

The government has, so far, requested a sentence of 30 months for DiCenzo, 40 percent below federal guidelines for the crimes committed: receipt of money through transactions of a credit union with intent to defraud, tax fraud and making false statements to federal officials.

DiCenzo's lawyer says he should be spared jail time.

While the initial delays were related to the timing of Pierce's prosecution, Judge Mark G. Mastroianni granted postponements in the past year based on claims that DiCenzo is too ill to make it to court. Since March, DiCenzo has cited risks of the coronavirus and his poor medical condition.

Mastroianni wants the prosecution and defense to say by Oct. 1 whether sentencing can take place through a Zoom conference — and whether they can agree on DiCenzo's punishment.

In a filing Friday, DiCenzo and his attorney, Thomas J. O'Connor Jr., of Springfield, said that, in the wake of a stroke in early March and other setbacks, he continues to undergo care at a Pittsfield extended care facility. DiCenzo's lawyers have said he also has been beset by bladder cancer, vision problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a minor heart attack last year.

DiCenzo receives kidney dialysis treatment three days a week.

"Mr. Dicenzo suffers from persistent left-side weakness, has difficulty walking, and requires assistance dressing and with personal hygiene tasks," the filing states. "He recently has been advised that his improvement has plateaued and that his current condition is permanent."

The filing sought a two-month delay, arguing that, in addition to "persistent physical limitations," he can't take the chance of exposure to the virus. DiCenzo's underlying medical conditions include diabetes and hypertension, the filing says.

It cites "the risk of his suffering catastrophic consequences if he were to contract COVID-19."

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-588-8341.


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