BY MAGGIE GORDON AND JOHN NICKERSON
Hearst Connecticut Media
Former New Canaan banker Stephen DeCrescenzo has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud stemming from an embezzlement scheme.
DeCrescenzo, who lives in West Haven and was a member of the West Haven city council until his resignation Nov. 24, was employed as a personal banker for JPMorgan Chase Bank in New Canaan. Between September 2008 and November 2011, the U.S. attorney claims DeCrescenzo embezzled a total of $106,028 in funds from customer accounts by transferring the funds into a separate customer account to which he had access.
DeCrescenzo “disguised numerous withdrawals from the customer accounts of (Chase) as authorized cash withdrawals by customers when in fact the money was stolen by DeCrescenzo,” the plea deal states. Further, the deal asserts that DeCrescenzo “wired funds stolen from a customer account held by (Chase) into another bank account for his personal benefit.”
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. DeCrescenzo is set to be sentenced Feb. 17. He was released on a $50,000 bond.
In addition to jail time and possible monetary fines, DeCrescenzo agreed to make restitution for the amount of money stolen.
DeCrescenzo, 37, who is married and has children, was first arrested on Nov. 1, 2013, after an investigation that opened August of that year after bank security called police to report fraudulent activity in three of its customers’ accounts. The investigation, which was conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, the Greenwich Police Department and the New Canaan Police Department, alleged that DeCrescenzo embezzled money from two accounts and used a third account to filter the money, according to a release issued at that time.
Police also said in 2013 that DeCrescenzo was seen on camera putting an envelope full of money into his desk drawer before later moving the envelope into his personal backpack.
A resume included in DeCrescenzo’s original court file shows that he began his career at a beverage company and moved quickly up the ladder in the banking industry. In 2007, he was president and branch manager at Cornerstone Mortgage in Essex; he was later a small-business specialist at a Norwich office for Bank of America. He moved to Chase in 2011, first at the bank’s Milford office, where he was also a small-business specialist, before moving to the New Canaan branch in 2012, where he was hired to increase the number of business customers and work outside the branch to develop new banking relationships in New Canaan and Wilton.
Hearst Connecticut Media includes four daily newspapers: Connecticut Post, Greenwich Time, The Advocate (Stamford) and The News Times (Danbury). See greenwichtime.com and stamfordadvocate.com for more from this reporter.