The former treasurer and vice president of South Adams Savings Bank in Massachusetts confessed this week to embezzling more than $1.6 million.

Peter Zabek Jr., 58, on Tuesday also pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts to personal income tax evasion for 1996. Zabek, who had been under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, faces up to 35 years in prison and $1.1 million in fines.

Mr. Zabek, a 30-year employee of the thrift, had pleaded not guilty last February.

According to court documents, he wrote unauthorized treasurer checks from March 1988 to April 1997 and deposited the funds into personal accounts at South Adams, Bank of Boston, and Fleet Bank and a South Adams account maintained by a Polish social club, of which he was president and business manager.

Each month, Mr. Zabek would conceal these transactions by writing more unauthorized treasurer checks and depositing them into the South Adams account "to cover the money he had converted to his own use," court records show.

From 1988 to 1992, he also stole nearly $287,000 from a certificate of deposit held by South Adams in the name of the Pope John Paul II Emergency Fund for St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

Mr. Zabek, who remains free on $100,000 bond, is to be sentenced Nov. 8.

Irving Goss, chief executive at South Adams, a $135 million-asset thrift established in 1869, said it has not lost any customers or deposits as a result of Mr. Zabek's check kiting. But he said the theft hurt the thrift's earnings. South Adams reported 1997 earnings of $542,000, compared with 1996 earnings of $938,000.

Mr. Zabek's downfall was hastened when an auditing system installed early last year alerted the bank that a large sum of money was missing.

Mr. Zabek confessed to then-president Michael Kwasniowski and submitted his resignation. Mr. Zabek was instructed to write a letter to the thrift's trustees, in which he admitted stealing $500,000.

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