Embezzler must stay in jail pending appeal, judge rules - The Buffalo News

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Embezzler must stay in jail pending appeal, judge rules

LOCKPORT – Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III refused Friday to free a former First Niagara Bank employee who stole seven customers’ money, but he did schedule arguments on her appeal for July 29.

Vickie E. Fritton, who stole $35,000 from customers’ accounts to feed a gambling habit at Seneca Niagara Casino, was sentenced May 22 to a year in jail by Lockport Town Justice Cheryl A. Antkowiak.

Fritton, 58, “went through $200,000 of her own money gambling,” defense attorney George V.C. Muscato said. She moved from Lockport to Spring Hill, Fla., during the investigation.

Fritton, who was arrested in March, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree scheming to defraud.

“The sentence, although a legal sentence, is excessive under the circumstances,” Muscato told Murphy in arguments Tuesday. He said Fritton had no prior offenses and paid back the money before the plea by selling her Lockport house.

Assistant District Attorney Laura T. Bittner argued that Fritton already received a break by being allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. The original charge was a felony with a maximum seven-year sentence.

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