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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Former teller receives probation in embezzlement in Connecticut

Two widely differing pictures were painted in court Tuesday of former credit union teller Yolanda O’Keefe.
Joyce McElhaney, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Credit Union, called O’Keefe “cunningly deceitful” and “a habitual thief” who embezzled more than $20,000 from the credit union’s branch at The Great Cedar Hotel at Foxwoods Resort Casino over a two-year period.
O’Keefe herself and her lawyer, Fred DeCaprio, described the 62-year-old Norwich grandmother, who has had with no previous brushes with the law, as sorry and ashamed about what she did.
A family member has repaid all the money O’Keefe stole, DeCaprio said.
He said she embezzled from her 14-year employer to feed a gambling addiction and because of financial problems caused by her husband being laid off from his job at Electric Boat.
Judge Susan Handy granted O’Keefe’s request for accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation. It means if she stays out of trouble for the next two years, the first-degree larceny charge against her will be dropped and she will have a clean record.
O’Keefe was arrested Sept. 25, after it was discovered that $100 bills in the middle of stacks of cash in the vault and in
O’Keefe’s teller drawer had been replaced with $1 bills, Assistant State’s Attorney Lawrence Tytla said.
He said $20,790 was taken from the vault and $810 from the teller’s drawer.
Even though the stolen money has been repaid, McElhaney said, the credit union’s “valued reputation has been compromised,” costing it accounts by depositors who might have lost confidence in it.
“She did not just steal from the vault, she stole from people,” McElhaney said. “She destroyed the morale of the staff and brought unwanted media attention.”
McElhaney said she believes O’Keefe turned down a promotion so she could stay a teller and continue to have access to the branch’s cash.
O’Keefe denied that claim, saying she preferred being a teller.
DeCaprio said O’Keefe was more desperate than calculating.
"I don’t see her as the manipulative person she’s been portrayed as,” he said.
Handy told O’Keefe that she will have to attend and complete a Gamblers Anonymous program and perform 50 hours of community service. She also is banned from the credit union, casinos and other gambling establishments. And for the two years of her probation, she will have to tell future employers what she did.
DeCaprio said because she has been required to disclose that already, O’Keefe hasn’t been able to find a new job after getting fired from the credit union.
“I’m really, deeply sorry for what I did,” O’Keefe said. “At 62, I never thought I’d find myself in this position. … I just want my life back, to get a job and start respecting myself again.”

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