Two people convicted on unrelated theft charges appeared for sentencing in Niagara County Court Friday, but will face very different futures.
The former manager of the Parkway Condominiums in Niagara Falls pleaded guilty to reduced charges of misdemeanor petit larceny for stealing $30,000 from the 140-member condominium association three years ago. She may be headed toward probation.
Meanwhile, a Buffalo man who also got a plea bargain was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for robbing a Lockport bank late last year.
In the condominium case, Judith M. Dale, 40, formerly of Lewiston, originally faced felony charges that could have brought her seven years in prison.
She paid back $15,000 at sentencing and is required to pay back the other $15,000. She also agreed to drop slander charges against condominium association board members Muriel White and Henry J. Borgese, who spoke out against her.
Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza agreed to probation for Dale, but only if Dale clears up reasons for the theft of condominium account money. Sperrazza stopped short of sentencing her to probation, saying she had problems with the case.
Dale has insisted the money she stole was not spent on illegal drugs, though that is open to question, the judge said.
"I have a major problem with the reason she was charging things," Sperrazza said in court. "She had no right to the condominium association accounts and she was not using the money for things like food and medicine, but for trips and massages. C'mon, she has not been candid. When you are in dire straits, you do not take trips and get massages. She indicated she never used cocaine, but [condominium tenant] Christopher Kudela said he was selling her cocaine on a regular basis."
Sperrazza said Dale must pass a polygraph test before a sentence is imposed on April 28.
"If she passes, she's getting probation," Sperrazza said.
Dale told the judge, "If I could go back and change things I would. I plan on making restitution and rebuilding their trust. I know what I did was wrong."
Borgese said he started the case and spent $18,000 of his own money pursuing it before a new board was appointed and found out more about misspent money. He said the loss to the group involved more than stolen money.
"I hope she goes to jail, but that's probably not going to happen," Borgese said.
In another case, Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. sentenced Brandon R. Murray, 21, of Buffalo, to 10 years in state prison, followed by an additional five years of probation for an armed robbery of a Lockport bank on Dec. 9.
Murray pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery, a violent felony offense, on Jan. 24, which had been reduced from first-degree robbery. His co-defendant, Marcus Crosby, pleaded guilty to the same offense on Thursday and is expected to face a similar sentence on May 12.
The two were charged with displaying a handgun and robbing the M&T Bank on Walnut Street. Police located the men after finding fingerprints on garbage bags the pair left at the scene.
"I apologize. I made some bad choices," Murray said. "Financial problems were getting at me. I didn't have money for bills."
Broderick interrupted Murray saying, "Most people have financial problems. They don't go into banks with guns."
"You can't take what's not yours." he said. "There needs to be a message to society that this is not going to be tolerated."