Friday, February 12, 2010

Canisius College embezzler spared jail

A former Canisius College bookkeeper who admitted embezzling more than $60,000 will stay out of jail but must pay $200 a month for the next 10 years to partially reimburse the school, a judge decided Wednesday.

Mary Pat Leahy, 54, told State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang she deeply regrets her “bad behavior” and said she is “sincerely ashamed” for what she had done.
In handing down the sentence, Wolfgang admonished her for her crime.
“You betrayed the trust of your employer and damaged the reputation of this fine institution,” Wolfgang said.
Leahy pleaded guilty Dec. 8 to grand larceny carrying a possible 15-year prison term. She declined to comment as she left court Wednesday morning.
Michael Sullivan, Leahy’s lawyer, told the judge her thefts, totaling $62,972, resulted from “marital difficulties” and tax problems caused by her ex-husband, who is now deceased.
The embezzlement occurred from May 2004 until shortly before Leahy was fired last August when a school audit uncovered the theft. She had worked at the college for 14 years.
Based on an assessment of Leahy’s “realistic ability to pay” back the school, the $24,000 she will have to come up with over the next 10 years is an acceptable amount, prosecutor John C. Doscher told the judge. She already has repaid $6,841.90.
Doscher told the judge the school has an insurance claim pending for the remaining money Leahy stole.
Wolfgang ordered Leahy to remain fully employed so she can continue to make restitution payments on her criminal debt. She also ordered her to write “a detailed letter of apology” to the college administration and to submit to substance abuse testing and treatment if ordered by court officials.
Doscher said after the sentencing that she was forced to plead guilty to the highest charge a grand jury could have lodged against her.
Both Doscher and Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III credited Gary Everett, Canisius College director of public safety, and Patrick Richey, the college’s chief financial officer, who were both in court for the sentencing, with playing major roles in the case.

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