Bookkeeper gets two to four years in prison for embezzling nearly $800,000 - The Buffalo News
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Bookkeeper gets two to four years in prison for embezzling nearly $800,000

When Mary Jane Hagler faced state prison for her second felony drunken-driving conviction in 2006, her employer appealed to the court for leniency.

She was sentenced to just six months in jail.

So how did she repay her boss at Pearce & Pearce Co.?

She kept stealing from the Town of Tonawanda property management company.

The 58-year-old Hamburg woman, who pleaded guilty in June to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, was sentenced Thursday to two to four years in prison for stealing $796,989 from the Niagara Falls Boulevard company between January 2003 and December 2012.

Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk noted how her employer had gone to bat for her on the 2006 DWI conviction by asking the court for leniency.

“Of course, that was before he knew you had been fleecing his company for several years,” Franczyk said.

She had embezzled money from the company since 2003 to support her casino gambling habit, prosecutors said.

The judge called the embezzlement probably the biggest larceny case he has handled.

She stole the money mostly by writing unauthorized checks payable to herself. She also charged personal purchases to the company credit card.

The embezzlement was discovered last year when the company’s owner announced plans for an audit of the firm’s financial records. Hagler quickly confessed to stealing $100,000, said John C. Doscher, head of the Erie County District Attorney’s Special Investigations Bureau, who prosecutes embezzlers and others accused of financial crimes.

An investigation determined the full amount stolen.

Doscher said it is unusual for an embezzlement to continue for so many years.

Hagler spent the money to pay for her casino gambling, said Doscher, who, with Assistant District Attorney Gary M. Ertel, prosecuted her.

She also admitted evading state income tax by failing to report her ill-gotten money on her state income tax returns.

She could have faced a maximum sentence of 5½ to 11 years.

Hagler, of Rosedale Avenue, has paid $400,000 in restitution to her former employer.

The company agreed to waive the remaining amount.

The restitution included $300,000 from her husband’s retirement plan and her daughter’s trust, as well as a $100,000 mortgage on their home that her husband signed over to the company, said Thomas J. Eoannou, her defense lawyer.

Hagler told Franczyk she regrets her actions and the troubles she caused her employer and fellow employees. She also apologized to her family.

Hagler’s family stepped up for her, the judge said, citing the actions of her husband and daughter in helping raise the money for partial restitution.

“You not only hurt your former employer, but your family as well,” Franczyk said.

The judge told Hagler she had an addictive personality, citing her gambling and drinking. “But that doesn’t justify stealing from your employer,” he said.


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