Borough man gets 2 years for tax evasion

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BRIDGEPORT — A Naugatuck man who authorities say helped swindle Webster Bank out of more than $2 million was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison for failing to pay taxes on the profits gained from the fraud.

Gary Stocking, 45, of Naugatuck, and his wife, Susan Curtis, were indicted last year after authorities determined they deceived Webster Bank into paying fees to a fabricated business.

Federal authorities claimed the couple blew through thousands to pay for first-class airfares, real estate, a wedding in Ireland, and even a work by the master painter Pablo Picasso.

Authorities claimed Curtis formed a company with her ex-husband, Kevin Caffrey, which was used for funneling money from Webster. Stocking formed Equity Realty in 2007, which was another shell company created to defraud the bank, according to multiple court documents.

Curtis was in a unique position to carry out the scam as she worked at Webster Bank as a vice president and transaction manager, and was responsible for acquiring and leasing properties for the bank.

Curtis submitted documents that falsely claimed both companies were due about $5 million in real estate fees, which Webster Bank paid, according to court records.

Curtis also got some Webster Bank clients and a representative of the bank to send more than $1 million directly to Equity Realty instead of to the bank, and she lied about her income and liabilities to receive a $649,000 loan from Bank of America, according to court records.

Prosecutors claimed Stocking and his wife profited from the Webster scam, spending money on a range of luxuries, including airfare and a single $48,000 American Express charge to pay for a Midtown Manhattan timeshare, among a list of other expenses.

Stocking pleaded guilty earlier this year to three counts of failing to file tax returns, crimes that stem from his failure to inform the government about the illegal earnings from Webster.

He has sat in a federal prison in Rhode Island since April awaiting sentencing.

Stocking’s attorney, Hope Seeley, had asked the court to sentence him to home confinement, arguing that the indictment marked his first trouble with the law.

Seeley claimed Stocking was a dedicated family man, a 20-year member of the Elks Lodge in Meriden, where he served as leader, and even gave his left kidney to his father in 2007 to save his father’s life.

At the time of his arrest, Stocking was working as a network engineer for AT&T, where he made about $90,000, according to federal court documents.

Stocking lost his career and standing in the community, his attorney argued.

Prosecutors countered that the scheme wasn’t a momentary lapse in Stocking’s judgment, but rather “was a carefully conceived plan that unfolded over the course [of] many years.”

Stocking has agreed to make restitution to the IRS to cover his tax debt, which exceeds $643,000. Federal authorities are also trying to force the couple to forfeit more than $1 million in East Hampton real estate, motorcycles and other luxuries.

Curtis pleaded guilty to bank fraud and filing false tax returns in January. Caffrey and Curtis await sentencing.