Judith Ann Scheitheir, a bookkeeper with an admitted "gambling problem," was spared a jail term Friday for stealing $350,000 from her employer, but only after agreeing to an unusual restitution arrangement that her victim proposed.
Scheitheir will make $400 monthly payments on the $250,000 life insurance policy her former boss, Timothy Krantz, took out on her life.
In addition, Krantz also was made the sole beneficiary on the $125,000 life insurance policy of Scheitheir's ailing husband.
The insurance arrangement is "probably the best chance we have [for] recovering anything she stole," Timothy Krantz, owner of the 67-year-old C.J. Krantz topsoil company, said after the sentencing.
Scheitheir began writing company checks to herself in 2003 to cover her credit card debt and losses at casinos in Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls, Ont., according to court papers.
Scheitheir, 57, of Young Street, City of Tonawanda, pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to third-degree grand larceny.
State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang placed Scheitheir on probation for the next five years and ordered her to continue counseling for her gambling problem. She also must try to find a job to help her with complete restitution.
Scheitheir and her husband are "basically destitute," Joseph M. LaTona, her attorney, told the judge. They currently are living off her husband's disability pension.
LaTona told the judge his client will struggle to make the monthly restitution payments but because of her criminal notoriety has been unable to persuade any local businesses to hire her.
Wolfgang warned Scheitheir that she was not getting "a slap on the wrist" and is legally responsible for paying restitution.
Scheitheir, who has an accounting degree from Buffalo State College, faces a possible prison term of up to seven years if she reneges on complete restitution, according to prosecutor Candace K. Vogel.