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EX-VILLAGE AIDE SPARED JAIL IN EMBEZZLEMENT

A former Lancaster building inspector was sentenced Friday to five years of probation for embezzling more than $25,000 from the municipality.

State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti spared Daniel L. Baccari, 43, jail time for pocketing $25,164 between 1997 and last August -- in large part because Baccari made full restitution.

"The fact you came to court, stood up and admitted you did something wrong and paid the money immediately, greatly affected the decision of the court," Rossetti told Baccari during sentencing. "I can't punish you anymore than you have punished yourself. You have family that you love and you (have) hurt them."

In November, Baccari pleaded guilty to a single felony count of fourth-degree grand larceny. Village officials agreed to the plea deal for five years of probation because the village has been completely reimbursed.

During Friday's sentencing, Rossetti also granted Baccari a partial certificate of relief from civil disability, which allows the former official to retain his architectural license.

"You may continue with the license with an imposed limit: You can't hold a position that deals with money," Rossetti said.

In addition to full restitution, Baccari volunteered to reimburse the village $2,000 towards the cost of an audit performed by the state after his Aug. 25 resignation as community development director and building inspector/code enforcement officer -- a dual post he had held for six years and which paid him $46,000.

His resignation came after village officials confronted him over money missing from the Lancaster Village Partnership, the nonprofit community development group charged with revitalizing downtown.

The day after officials confronted Baccari, he turned over a metal Band-Aid tin filled with $14,000 in $50 and $100 bills. The next day, Baccari brought in a cashier's check, bringing the total amount he turned over to the village to more than $20,000. His final payment was made Nov. 27.

Thomas H. Burton, Baccari's lawyer, said his client used some of the embezzled money "to assist his elderly parents."

"I'm sorry. I realize it was wrong," Baccari said. "I apologize to the people I affected -- the ones I know and the ones I don't."

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