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Embezzler must serve full sentence, judge rules

LOCKPORT – Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III has refused to shorten the one-year County Jail sentence imposed on a former First Niagara Bank employee for stealing a total of about $37,000 from seven elderly customers.

Murphy said the sentence imposed on Vickie E. Fritton, 58, was “stern and unsympathetic, but not unduly harsh or excessive.”

Fritton was charged in March with two felonies that could have brought her a maximum of 11 years in prison. The District Attorney’s Office allowed her to plead guilty May 22 to a misdemeanor, attempted first-degree scheming to defraud, and Lockport Town Justice Cheryl A. Antkowiak sentenced her to a year in jail, the maximum for a misdemeanor.

Fritton, who worked 17 years as a “senior relationship banker” at First Niagara, began stealing money after she was widowed and started going to Seneca Niagara Casino frequently, her attorney, George V.C. Muscato, said in arguing her appeal July 29. He said Fritton “went through $200,000 of her own money gambling.”

Fritton, who had no prior criminal record, paid back the money in full by selling her house, Muscato said. The woman moved from Lockport to Spring Hill, Fla., during the investigation.