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John R. Skok, who showed up drunk for his appearance in New London Superior Court Monday and was taken into custody, returned Wednesday by way of a prison transport van and pleaded guilty to helping his wife steal the life savings of an elderly woman they had befriended.
“I severely apologize for my behavior, for not being ready to appear in court,” Skok, 59, of Ledyard said to Judge Hillary B. Strackbein.
The judge accepted Skok’s guilty plea and sentenced him to a year in prison for conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.
Alerted by court officials Monday that Skok appeared intoxicated, Strackbein ordered him to undergo a Breathalyzer test even though Skok denied having had a drink in “months.” The judge increased his bond and continued the case when the test revealed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.14.
Prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla said that Joanne Skok, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence, was the “primary mover” in the elaborate scam to defraud Jacqueline Becker of about $40,000 but that John Skok had seconded some of the misrepresentations his wife made to Becker under the guise of helping her with a financial problem. Skok had also taken the victim’s checks and deposited them into the couple’s account, Tytla said.
Becker was forced to move out of her home as a result of the scam. Her granddaughter, Ashley Meyer, spoke on Becker’s behalf Wednesday, saying her grandmother was not well. Meyer broke into tears as she recounted the pain of seeing her kind grandmother struggle. She said she wished her grandmother could have seen Skok led away in handcuffs.
“She knows he was not the brains of the scam, but he did do most of the dirty work,” Meyer said.
Skok will be on probation for three years following his release and will be required to make restitution payments to Becker.
“She trusted you,” Strackbein said. “Not only did you breach that trust, but she’s financially devastated.”
The judge ordered that Skok undergo an alcohol evaluation upon his release and that he be treated, if deemed necessary.