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Former Berkshire Bank employee from Pittsfield pleads guilty to embezzling $220,000

Crime

PITTSFIELD — A man who embezzled $220,000 from Berkshire Bank pleaded guilty Monday to eight charges and could face up to three years in prison.

Leonard Curtis, a former employee at the bank, admitted that he created cashier’s checks for his personal use from Berkshire Bank and forged signatures from other employees at the bank in late 2018. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Melissa Brooks recounted the evidence against him during a hearing in Berkshire County Superior Court.

Curtis, 27, is facing two to three years in state prison, two years probation and restitution for the funds taken, as recommended by the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office.

Elizabeth J. Quigley, the defense attorney for Curtis, said she would seek a probationary period to allow him to make full restitution of the amount, a plan under which Curtis would pay 30 percent of his net income annually.

Quigley said she hopes Curtis will be allowed to continue working in order to pay the restitution. Quigley said he is employed at a car dealership in New York and would be able to pay back the sum that was embezzled. Curtis lives in New York, though he lived in Pittsfield at the time of the charges.

Curtis does not have a prior criminal record and Quigley said she hopes to make the case that he is unlikely to do anything like this again.

“The scheme he undertook was so obvious and so traceable, it was clearly not a scheme designed by a criminal mastermind,” Quigley said shortly after the hearing.

Quigley said Curtis was in a state of emotional distress when the crimes occurred. In his court appearance Monday, Curtis said that he has been working with a therapist to help him process the emotions occurring at the time.

“In the last three years, he’s worked very hard on the emotional issues that led him to do this,” Quigley said.

The eight charges that Curtis pleaded guilty to as part of a plea deal include embezzlement from a bank, three counts of check forgery, three counts of uttering a false check and one count of larceny.

Quigley said she plans to file a sentencing memorandum and bring Curtis’ psychologist to the hearing in order to present their case for probation.

Curtis’s sentencing hearing is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 31.

Matt Martinez can be reached at mmartinez@berkshireeagle.com.

News Reporter

Matt Martinez is a news reporter at The Berkshire Eagle. He worked at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, graduated Marquette University. He is a former Report for America corps member.

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