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Prosecutors demand over $400,000 restitution in doctors’ office embezzlement

LOCKPORT – Prosecutors in the case of an office manager who pleaded guilty to embezzling money from a Lewiston medical office for at least 6½ years demanded more than $400,000 in restitution Tuesday.

Anne M. Fadel, 65, of Perry Court, Lewiston, pleaded guilty Sept. 24 to second-degree grand larceny, which under the law implies that she stole more than $50,000.

In a restitution hearing that began Tuesday before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas, special prosecutors John C. Doscher and Gary M. Ertel said their information, derived from a State Police investigation and digging by a certified public accountant, was that a shortfall of $404,745 was created between July 2007 and January 2014.

They said that was the difference between the amount that records show was supposed to be deposited in the bank and the amount that actually was.

Doscher attributed the thefts from the medical practice of Dr. Frank R. Laurri and Dr. Samuel R. Sirianni to Fadel’s “high living and gambling.” Fadel worked there for 17 years.

The prosecutors said they reduced the amount of the shortfall by almost $11,000 to account for cash advances to members of the office, leaving the theft total at $393,917.38, but they also demanded that Fadel cover the CPA bill of $15,000.

Doscher and Ertel, who are Erie County assistant district attorneys called in because of a conflict of interest for Niagara County prosecutors, said Fadel was pocketing cash and making the deposits look whole by putting in substitute checks.

Tuesday’s hearing was devoted mostly to playing the tape of Fadel’s interview with two State Police investigators at the Witmer Road station on May 14.

Fadel confessed to the crime, according to Doscher, but the audio quality was such that spectators generally could hear only the questions, not Fadel’s answers. Farkas finally ordered the speakers placed right on the bench so she could hear them.

One of the things that was audible was Fadel’s denial that anyone else knew of or was involved in the thefts. Doscher and Ertel confirmed that investigation had yielded no basis to charge anyone else.

CPA Robert Travis took the stand, but when Doscher and Ertel introduced a box of some 2,000 pages of documents as evidence, defense attorneys James C. Roscetti and Alan J. Roscetti objected that they hadn’t seen any of the material.

Farkas ordered that copies must be turned over to the defense and adjourned the hearing until Nov. 24.

Besides whatever restitution tab Farkas orders, Fadel risks a prison term of as long as 15 years. No sentencing date has been set.