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WARREN Man guilty of theft



Published: Fri, August 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant could face up to 20 years in prison.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A 43-year-old man accused of stealing about $140,000 from his employer has been convicted of 12 charges.

Steve J. Aivazis of Allenwood Drive, Howland, entered no-contest pleas Thursday in the courtroom of Judge John Stuard, who accepted them and found Aivazis guilty.

The judge said Aivazis will be sentenced after the county adult probation department completes a background check. The check will take about six weeks, court officials said.

Aivazis could face up to 20 years in prison.

Both Aivazis and his attorney, John Fowler, declined to comment during the court proceedings. Neither could be reached after the hearing.

Plea agreement: Aivazis pleaded no contest to seven counts of forgery, three counts of money laundering, and one count each of grand theft and aggravated theft.

In exchange for his pleas, Atty. Diane Barber, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, agreed to dismiss three counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Aivazis remains free on a $30,000 bond, officials said.

Detective Tom Andrews of the Cortland Police Department said Aivazis is accused of stealing from Ainsley and Son Heating and Service Experts Inc., 215 West Main St., Cortland. Aivazis worked as a bookkeeper for the company for three years, Andrews said.

A Cortland police report notes that the owner, Mark Ainsley Sr., met with Aivazis on Jan. 6, and Aivazis told Ainsley that he had "disbursed company checks to himself" to pay personal debt and that he had also taken cash from the register. Ainsley fired Aivazis after learning of the thefts.

Andrews said he thinks Aivazis took about $140,000.

He noted that the company began to notice bookkeeping errors in December 1999.

Results of audit: Andrews said a private audit was performed, and numerous accounting discrepancies, apparent forged checks and checks that were not substantiated to legitimate business expenditures were found.

Police traced 64 company checks through seven banks and financial institutions to find that the money from those checks went into Aivazis' personal checking accounts or was used to pay loans and mortgages incurred by Aivazis, Andrews said.

Police also found that Aivazis forged employee signatures on payroll checks and cashed the checks for personal use, Andrews said.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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