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Man pleads guilty to stealing from ill woman's trust

A Buffalo man accused of raiding a trust established to pay the medical expenses of a beloved Allentown restaurateur has pleaded guilty as charged.

Scott Huber, 36, pleaded guilty this week to second-degree grand larceny and faces a possible maximum penalty of 5 to 15 years in prison when sentenced by Erie County Judge Michael D'Amico.

Huber had signature authority for a trust account opened by the daughter of Mary Tomaselli.

After Tomaselli, owner of La Tee Da restaurant on Allen Street, was diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2010, a benefit was organized to raise money for medical expenses.

The April 2010 benefit raised more than $85,000.

"All of these community activists came together and, out-of-pocket, they gave this woman money," District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said.

Huber was supposed to disburse money for Tomaselli's medical needs, but started helping himself to it, the district attorney said.

He was accused of stealing more than $50,000. The money was used for personal expenses, as well establishing his own insurance agency and making capital improvements, Sedita said.

One of those expenses was the installation of a heated sidewalk in front of his Delaware Avenue office.

When Tomaselli's daughter wanted to use trust funds in February 2011 to buy a special bed for her mother, Huber discouraged her, the district attorney said.

After Tomaselli died on March 16, 2011, the daughter sought trust funds for funeral expenses. Huber stalled and said that it would be an "illegal" use of the money, Sedita said.

When the daughter tried to withdraw money, she was told there were insufficient funds. That's when she confronted Huber.

"About $36,000 of the trust was spent on legitimate medical expenses," Sedita said.

Restitution is expected to be part of next month's sentence, scheduled for June 26.