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Cheektowaga woman spared jail in bingo embezzlement at parish

So far, Kim Pietrzak’s guilty plea to one count of third-degree grand larceny for stealing bingo money from Resurrection Parish on Como Park Boulevard in Cheektowaga has cost her $10,000 in restitution and two jobs – the one she had when she took the money and the one she had when information about the crime appeared in the news media.

Her admission will not cost her any time in prison, though, if she abides by the conditions set out by Erie County Judge Michael L. D’Amico on Thursday when he sentenced her to five years’ probation and 500 hours of community service.

“I apologize,” a tearful Pietrzak told the judge. “I guarantee this won’t happen again in my future.”

Since she previously testified that she and some of her co-workers at the church used the money to gamble, D’Amico included in his conditions that she stay out of casinos and any other place where people can gamble.

Pietrzak, 47, of Fairelm Lane, Cheektowaga, originally was charged with multiple counts of grand larceny and forgery during the time she was business manager at the church, between 2010 and 2012. She also was accused of stealing more than $1,000 by placing personal purchases on a parish credit card.

Although the original indictment accused her of stealing $49,836 in bingo money, the actual amount missing from the church was never confirmed, and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has said its investigation into the missing money remains open. The problems were discovered during an audit that revealed a number of accounting discrepancies and led to the involvement of the District Attorney’s Office.

Meanwhile, the diocese said, the parish “has reinforced existing Diocesan Best Parish Practices Guidelines and implemented other audit recommendations.”

In another case, a former Toys R Us store manager was sentenced to a minimum of 1½ years in prison Wednesday after he admitted stealing about $42,000 from his employer to support his gambling habit. He was arrested in June 2014.

Brandon S. Staszak, 41, of Cheektowaga, had two prior felony convictions for driving while intoxicated before he pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted grand larceny for the embezzlement, which meant he faced mandatory jail time for this offense.

County Judge Kenneth F. Case sentenced Staszak to 1½ to three years in prison. Staszak already has repaid half the money, and Case gave him 60 months following his release from prison to complete the restitution.