Sentencing repeatedly postponed for former Greylock loan officer

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PITTSFIELD — When he pleaded guilty five years ago to defrauding a local credit union, Michael Dicenzo agreed to pay back a lot of money.

But nearly a decade after he left Greylock Federal Credit Union, the full personal cost of Dicenzo's felonious banking still isn't known.

Dicenzo's sentencing has been postponed eight times. An appearance that had been planned for Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield was the latest date to be scratched. He is now due to stand before Judge Mark G. Mastroianni on March 26.

That date leapfrogs the longtime former Berkshire County banker a few weeks past the sentencing of a Pittsfield man, Jeffrey Pierce, who prosecutors say was a party to a multimillion-dollar loan fraud.

From 2005 to 2008, the government says, Dicenzo violated Greylock loan practices by steering $4 million in loans or loan modifications to Pierce and, in return, taking $134,773 in payments from the borrower, along with free use of a BMW.

By violating Greylock's loan policies, the Justice Department said in a release last June, Dicenzo gave Pierce "funds far in excess of what Pierce and his companies could reasonably receive or repay."

Jeff Gerand, a Greylock executive, said in a statement last summer that the credit union was grateful to law enforcement officials for investigating the fraud. He said Greylock has strong risk management practices in place. "We are pleased that it is finally being resolved and that justice is being done," he said of the case.

Repeated delays

It isn't clear why Dicenzo still hasn't been sentenced. His attorney asked once or twice for delays for personal reasons. But most of the schedule changes were made without explanation by the court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow referred questions about the Greylock case to a communications official, who did not respond to a request for comment. Dicenzo's attorney, Alan Black, of Northampton, could not be reached for comment.

Dicenzo's case is interwoven with allegations that federal prosecutors eventually brought against Pierce, a Greylock commercial borrower.

Pierce pleaded guilty last June to one count of conspiracy involving fraudulent credit union transactions and to making false statements to a federal credit union. It is possible that prosecutors want to delay Dicenzo's sentencing until after Pierce's case is resolved.

In the original charges brought against Dicenzo, Pierce was identified only as "Businessman 1." It took prosecutors five years to put a name to that part of Dicenzo's fraud, in a case that involved the criminal investigation division of the IRS.

Pierce's sentencing, originally scheduled for Oct. 3, also has been delayed several times. His attorney, Lori H. Levinson, of Great Barrington, asked the court in January to postpone her client's Jan. 23 sentencing, citing the complexity of the case.

Levinson also suggested that she needed more time to build a case for leniency.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Pierce could face a sentence on the conspiracy charge of no more than five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

"Counsel is conducting a thorough review in order to present arguments in mitigation of the advisory guideline range," Levinson wrote in her motion. "The extent and nature of this review has been requiring more time than would ordinarily be necessary to prepare for sentencing."

Prosecutors say Dicenzo steered payments from Pierce into a "front" company. Along with access to a luxury car that had been bought with money Greylock loaned to Pierce, the arrangement provided Dicenzo with free use of a home that had been built by one of Pierce's companies.

In addition to accusing Pierce of fraudulent credit union transactions, prosecutors say he made false statements in March 2010, at Dicenzo's direction, about payments to the front company, CAD Home Design.

The government says Pierce falsely told the credit union that the payments were compensation for design services that Dicenzo's spouse had provided for construction projects by his companies.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

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