Friday, February 6, 2015

Upstate New York Woman Gets Probation For Embezzling At Least $225K From Doctor's Practice

From the Buffalo News on 2/4/2015:

Perhaps Dr. Frank R. Laurri should have fired Anne M. Fadel when a co-worker said he saw her pocketing a $50 bill from a patient’s payment in 2003.

Laurri told Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon on Wednesday that he wanted to do so, but was talked out of it. “We were a family,” Laurri said. Eventually, the accuser resigned and the matter was ascribed to a personality conflict between him and Fadel.

Fadel, the office manager and “a trusted employee since 1997,” according to Laurri, stayed at his Lewiston medical practice until 2014, stealing all the way.

On Tuesday, Fadel, 65, was placed on five years’ probation for her guilty plea to second-degree grand larceny. Sheldon said it had been agreed that if Fadel repaid $225,000 by the sentencing date, she would not go to prison. But Laurri said he heard that for the first time Tuesday. He spent much of his time at the microphone arguing for a prison sentence. The maximum was five to 15 years, a sentence that Fadel would face if she violates any terms of probation.

“This type of person does not deserve a break from the court,” said Laurri, who was victimized along with his partner in the medical practice, Dr. Samuel R. Sirianni.

However, Sheldon said an agreement was made in her chambers that Fadel would not be jailed if she paid. Special prosecutor Gary M. Ertel, an Erie County assistant district attorney, said he thought Laurri had been told; Laurri said he wasn’t.

The sentencing commitment apparently was not placed on the record when Fadel was ordered Dec. 16 to pay the $225,000 by Wednesday, which she did.

Laurri said he was convinced that Fadel had stolen more than $500,000 since at least 2004, but bank records were destroyed after seven years, and the proof was lacking.

Laurri told Sheldon, “Even up to the bitter end, she tried to cheat us, working through her attorneys to hold our restitution hostage unless we made certain concessions.”

Fadel contended that “on a daily basis, there was a lot of verbal abuse from them, and I hung in, year after year.”
“It’s just simply untrue,” Laurri said after court. “There is no verbal abuse in our office.”

When asked why she stole the money, Fadel told the judge, “Apparently, in my small mind, I must have felt justified in doing it.”

Sheldon said, “Coming to the table today to face the court, she was laughing. It blew me away.”
Fadel, apologizing for the thefts, said, “I made a big mistake.”

“I wish you wouldn’t call it a mistake. It was a crime,” the judge said. She accused Fadel of being “disconnected” from the reality of the crime.

Several minutes later, as Fadel was sitting with defense attorney Dominic Saraceno, reviewing the probation rules, Sheldon interrupted another case to say, “There you are, giggling away. It’s just preposterous. You really need counseling.”

Mental health counseling is one condition of the probation. Also, Fadel must serve 10 days in the county work program and perform 500 hours of community service.

Fadel wouldn’t tell a why she stole the money, but defense attorney Alan J. Roscetti said, “It was a $100-a-week gambling habit at the Seneca Niagara Casino.”

Laurri said Fadel drove a Cadillac Escalade and bragged about her designer shoes and purses. “This person is a repeat offender in the strictest sense. She stole day after day after day for years.”

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