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Guilty plea to grand larceny as second chance turns to second crime

A “second chance” in life turned out to be a second chance for Richard Peter Pascucci to defraud people who trusted him.

Pascucci, 35, of Bowen Avenue, Lancaster, pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court on Tuesday morning to grand larceny in the second degree.

He admitted to Justice Christopher J. Burns that he embezzled $100,000 from Bender’s Christian Store in Clarence while he worked there. The thefts took place over two years, beginning in October 2013.

Pascucci siphoned off the money by falsifying gift certificate records and pocketing the cash.

The store hired Pascucci after he was convicted in an earlier fraud case. In April 2011, Pascucci pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of wire fraud for converting customer funds to his private use – in other words, stealing from his clients.

Prosecutors in that case said that Pascucci was self-employed as a financial adviser and, after giving investment advice to two older women, he began embezzling from them.

He reportedly stole $206,000 from one woman in 2009 and $55,000 from a second woman in 2010 by having them write checks payable to him on the pretext that he would invest the money on their behalf.

Instead, he spent the money on himself.

In January 2012, a federal judge sentenced Pascucci to 30 months in prison and ordered him to make full restitution to the estate of his first victim, who died in 2011, and to the second victim.

Tuesday’s plea makes Pascucci a second felony offender, which means he faces a possible maximum prison term of 15 years when he is sentenced April 7.

The case was prosecuted by Candace K. Vogel of the District Attorney’s Special Investigations Bureau.