As she pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court on Friday, embezzler Virginia E. Hatch claimed she stole money from her now-bankrupt employer on behalf of the company president, who is now deceased.
Hatch, 57, of Moyer Road, Wheatfield, was accused of stealing money from Carney Plumbing and Heating from December 2007 through the end of 2008 by writing checks to herself while working as a bookkeeper there.
She admitted to first-degree falsifying business records, a felony, although Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza agreed to sentence her to no more than a year in jail.
Hatch also was ordered to repay $35,418 before her sentencing date April 1. Morris L. Hurwitz, the company's Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, asked that the money be paid to him.
After the plea was entered, Sperrazza asked Hatch why she stole the money.
"I was working for the company president," Hatch replied. "I was stealing on his behalf."
When Sperrazza asked Hatch if she had taken money for her own benefit, the defendant answered, "I was receiving kickbacks from money that was given to me."
Assistant District Attorney Brian D. Seaman said he didn't think Hatch's story of stealing for company president Al Carney was true. He added, "I can't ask him. He's dead."
Defense attorney Vincent R. Ginestre said Hatch had admitted to taking more than $10,000 for her own use, but he said there was some question about the other $24,000 or so.
In another case before Sperrazza on Friday, a man who stole a car in Wheatfield on July 21 and led police on a high-speed chase pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny.
John S. Domin, 37, had been living in the B-Cozy Motel on Niagara Falls Boulevard in North Tonawanda at the time of his arrest. During the chase, which police said reached speeds of up to 140 mph, Domin's girlfriend and her two children, ages 1 and 2, were in the car.
Domin, who is a repeat felon because of a 2004 burglary conviction, is facing up to four years in state prison when he returns to court April 1.
A civil judgment is to be entered against Domin for restitution of $899 to the owner of the 2008 Dodge Charger and $7,703 to the man's insurance company.
Investigators said the car was stolen from a home on Trails End Lane and was spotted at Lockport and Nash roads. The chase went from Shawnee Road to Niagara Falls Boulevard and into North Tonawanda, where Domin abandoned the car in the parking lot of Ohio Street Elementary School. He had let his girlfriend and her children out a few blocks away.
Domin fled on foot and later told police he spent the night in the woods. He was arrested the next morning.