A New Milford bank teller accused of embezzling $16,500 has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree larceny at state Superior Court in Litchfield.

William Baldwin Jr., 27, of Railroad Street, made the plea Friday. He turned himself in to New Milford police in early June on the charge, which stemmed from the time he was head teller at a Savings Bank of Danbury branch on Kent Road.

According to court documents, Mr. Baldwin confessed to New Milford police May 24 he had stolen the money. A bank employee for eight years, he explained he had "run into some financial difficulties" while supporting his 2-year-old daughter on his own, court papers said.

"I would short my cash drawer between $20 and $100 for the past year... before I realized it, I had taken approximately $16,000 from the bank," Mr. Baldwin told police, according to the arrest affidavit.

Mr. Baldwin would then deposit the money into his own account.

Mr. Baldwin had been transferred to the bank's Bethel branch by the time Kent Road branch manager Debbie Hartman received reports from bank customers that withdrawals had been made from their personal savings accounts that they had not authorized, according to court documents.

The withdrawals were made May 13 and 14 at different times, Ms. Hartman told police.

An internal audit allegedly found Mr. Baldwin had processed the withdrawal transactions. He was contacted and given a chance to return the money without police involvement, but he denied knowledge of the thefts, the bank's security officer told police.

Mr. Baldwin later admitted to police he had withdrawn money from three customers' accounts to cover the missing $16,500, according to court documents.

"No one else at the bank was involved... I will make all attempts to repay Savings Bank of Danbury the $16,000 that I have stolen from it," Mr. Baldwin told police, according to court documents.

Mr. Baldwin's attorney, Scott McCarthy of Cramer & Anderson law firm, declined comment Monday since the case is pending.

Mr. Baldwin is free on a $15,000 bond. He is due back in court Aug. 31 for a pre-trial hearing.