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Desrochers pleads guilty to stealing from elderly

December 30, 2009
LANCASTER — A former Passumpsic Bank employee pled guilty in Cos Superior Court on Monday morning to embezzling just under $200,000 from the accounts of elderly bank customers.

Tina Desrochers of Whitefield uttered a weak "I'm sorry," before being led away in handcuffs to serve no less than two and no more than 10 years in the NH State Prison for Women. The sentence was imposed by Judge Timothy J. Vaughan, as part of the negotiated plea for the six counts of theft by unauthorized taking. The charges are all class-A felonies.

Mrs. Desrochers made 42 separate withdrawals from when she was hired as a customer service representative at the bank in Oct 18, 2006 until she was confronted on Feb. 13 2009 for stealing $196, 565.02 from six people. The ages of the customers that Mrs. Desrochers had targeted ranged from 68 to 91 years old.

The stolen money was insured by Passumpsic, so in the end the victim was the bank itself, to which Mrs. Desrochers now has to pay restitution for the amount taken.

The apology of Mrs. Desrochers fell on the deaf ears of Craig Lantagne, Senior Vice President of Passumpsic, who read a statement from the bank aloud. Mr. Lantagne said that when Ms. Desrochers was confronted on Feb 13, "she showed no signs of remorse and biggest concern was that it would be in the local paper. She not only stole, but placed the blame on fellow employees. She deliberately targeted vulnerable individuals that had suffered a personal tragedy, leaving them to handle their finances alone."

As for the case's outcome, "I think it was fair," said Assistant Grafton County Attorney Nancy Gray, who handled the case for the Cos County Attorney's office. "I do feel sorry for those elderly."

The prosecution believed there was plenty of evidence against Ms. Desrochers, including a confession given to Det. Sheldon Belanger during the course of the investigation. They decided the plea agreement was safer than sending the case to a jury trial and resulted in a quicker outcome for a case that started nearly a year ago, according to Attny Gray.

At the time of her arrest, Ms. Derochers was married to Lancaster patrolman Jason Desrochers. The couple — who have two preteen children — has since divorced. Any potential involvement of Officer Desrochers in this case was investigated, including a polygraph test, by the state police. He was cleared of any involvement and has returned to duty.

To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, Cos County Attorney Robert Mekeel said he sought the involvement of the Grafton County Attorney's office to handle the case, since his office works closely with Officer Desrochers on a regular basis because of his position with the Lancaster Police.

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