Ex-bank exec pleads guilty Betty Pacocha pleads guilty to stealing more than $700,000

Betty Pacocha pleads guilty to stealing more than $700,000

Some New Milford residents this week were shocked to learn a 75-year-old Kent woman who spent four decades working for a local bank had pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to stealing more than $720,000 from certificate of deposit accounts.

Betty Pacocha admitted draining funds from NewMil Bank customers' CD accounts and converting them to her own use, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy.

When the looted CDs were scheduled to mature, Ms. Pacocha replaced the missing funds by stealing money from other customers' accounts.

She faces a term of up to 30 years in prison and a $1.4 million fine when she is sentenced Oct. 9 by Judge Mark Kravitz in district court in New Haven.

T. Stevens Bliss, an attorney for the bank, was "totally shocked" when he heard the news.

"I knew her for eight years," Mr. Bliss said Wednesday. "It's so unlike her character. She was the matriarch of [NewMil forerunner] New Milford Savings and, to her, the whole staff was her family. She felt she had to take care of everyone. This is bizarre knowing the person as I do."

Pat Hembrook, who knew Ms. Pacocha through her work with the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce, found her to be "a very sweet woman, who I knew for 15 to 20 years."

"At the time I knew her and was at the chamber, she was the person at the bank we contacted for donations for the Youth Agency or the Children's Center," Ms. Hembrook said. "That was in the 1990s."

Ms. Pacocha began working for the bank, then on 19 Main St. in New Milford, as a teller in 1961 and later served as branch manager, vice president and finally executive vice president, before retiring in 2006, several weeks after NewMil Bank merged with Webster Bank.

Her position allowed her access to information about customers who maintained CD accounts. She is accused of stealing $722,817.18 between 1976 and her retirement. She has repaid the money from her retirement pension, Ms. Dannehy said.

Calls Wednesday to Ms. Pacocha's residence in Kent were not returned before press time.

Staff writer Susan Tuz contributed to this article.

Contact John Pirro(at jpirro@newstimes.com(or at (203) 731-3342.