Published May 21. 2013 5:00PM Updated May 21. 2013 5:14PM
A 62-year-old woman with a history of financial crimes is scheduled to go on trial in New London Superior Court next week for embezzling more than $40,000 from an elderly woman she had befriended.
Joanne A. Skok of 43H Flintlock Road, Ledyard and her 59-year-old husband, John R. Skok, were charged in 2011 with stealing from Jacqueline Becker, president and treasurer of the Montville Town Fair, whom they had met after volunteering for the now-defunct organization. Becker is in her 70s.
Both of the Skoks posted bond following their arrests and pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. They have both opted to go to trial.
Prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla and Attorney Theodore Koch completed jury selection on Tuesday. The panel of six regular members and two alternates will begin hearing evidence June 29.
Tytla had moved to join the two cases so that the husband and wife could be tried simultaneously, but Judge Arthur C. Hadden denied the motion Monday after hearing arguments from the Skoks’ attorneys.
Michael A. Jewell, representing John Skok, had argued his client would be unduly prejudiced at a joint trial because of his wife’s prior convictions for writing bad checks and larcenies. Mrs. Skok was formerly known as Joanne Warner and Joanne Rochette.
Jewell also argued that Skok’s competence to stand trial is at issue, submitting to the court a doctor’s note that said Skok had memory loss due to alcohol abuse, a car accident and a stroke. The judge ordered that the husband undergo a competency evaluation.
Both of the Skoks have medical issues. Joanne Skok is confined to a wheelchair and during jury selection Tuesday was wearing a neck brace and a wrist brace. She has appeared in court at times wearing a protective mask.
The state alleges that the Skoks stole the money from Becker under the guise of helping her recover from financial difficulties. Becker had told the couple she cosigned a car loan for her grandson, who crashed the car and was uninsured.
The Skoks told her that John Skok had a nephew in the FBI who could help and that the dealership that sold the grandson his car was connected to the Gotti crime family.