Bonnie Krauss, who came to court with certified bank checks for slightly more than the $70,382 she actually stole from the Buffalo Bills, pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally using team credit cards to make purchases for her family before her dismissal last year.
Krauss, 50, now of Corona, Calif., had been an administrative assistant in the Bills' marketing and broadcasting department for about a decade. She pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller.
The former Gowanda resident's attorney, Joel L. Daniels, handed the checks over to Bills corporate counsel Michael Schiavone in a downtown courtroom. Schiavone said the team will return the overpayment.
Krauss had been indicted on a charge of second-degree grand larceny months ago for systematically misusing team credit cards for personal expenses from at least as far back as December 2003, until she moved to California last year with her husband, Robert, a retired Gowanda-area police officer, and their children.
John C. Doscher, chief of the Erie County district attorney's Special Investigations Bureau, told the judge that the plea deal on the lesser felony charge was offered only because Krauss made full restitution Tuesday. The Bills concurred with the plea deal.
Boller allowed Krauss to remain free on $20,000 previously posted bail pending her Dec. 4 sentencing. He told her he will spare her a jail term since she has returned the funds.
But Boller also warned her that, should she fail to return to Buffalo for sentencing, she faces a prison term of up to seven years.
"I'm sure this is an experience you don't want to repeat," the judge told her.
Krauss responded "Yes, sir."
Doscher said an internal audit by the team earlier this year spotlighted Krauss' thefts.
Krauss and her husband, formerly of Maltbie Road, Gowanda, declared bankruptcy in February 2008, according to public records. It was the couple's second bankruptcy in a decade.