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Cheektowaga woman admits stealing $490,000 from her company

An executive who objected to her company’s owner about the bereavement policy wound up turning a spotlight on her own illicit financial activity and found herself pleading guilty to a felony this week in Erie County Court.

Bernadette Szymanski, 61, of Cheektowaga admitted to one charge of second-degree grand larceny for stealing nearly half a million dollars from her employer. According to the District Attorney’s Office, while working as comptroller for FPPF Chemical Co. on West Tupper Street, Szymanski stole $491,893 through payroll fraud and personal use of the company credit card. The thefts reportedly began in 2002, more than a decade after Szymanski started with the company, and continued until the deception was revealed in November 2015, when she was fired.

Prosecutors say Szymanski became embroiled in a dispute with FPPF’s owner about compensation for bereavement leave, prompting the owner to investigate whether Szymanski compensated herself beyond the company’s policy. More than 10 years of embezzlement was uncovered.

Judge Kenneth F. Case set sentencing for Aug. 8. Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Jurusik is prosecuting the case.