COURT Woman sentenced after theft of money
The former director must repay $144,844.60 to the center.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA STAFF
NEW CASTLE, Pa. --The former director of the McGill Community Center will spend at least nine months in jail and the next 19 years paying the center back more than $100,000.
Bernadette Datillo Schaffner, 48, of Hillcrest had pleaded guilty to theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and forgery. President Judge Dominick Motto sentenced her Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.
New Castle Police arrested Schaffner in June 2004 after determining that she had stolen the nonprofit center's money and used it for herself. She used it to pay her car insurance, children's college tuition and personal bills, among other things, officials said.
She will report to the Lawrence County Jail on Monday to start serving her sentence of nine to 18 months.
Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew Mangino said Schaffner will be required to repay the center $144,844.60 as part of her sentence. He said she will have to pay that money while on probation for the next 19 years.
Representatives of the McGill Center were on hand for Schaffner's sentencing, he said.
How they were tipped off
New Castle police started investigating Schaffner in April 2004 after they were alerted by a private investigator hired by the Arthur McGill Presbyterian Community Center concerning checks issued to Schaffner.
Police contend that Schaffner used the money to pay personal bills to Wal-Mart, Sears and Ralph's Supermarket, as well as other bills. Police said Schaffner also paid back personal loans with the center's money, and didn't make some deposits given to the center.
Authorities said they believe that Schaffner started taking the money in 1999, shortly after the center's bookkeeper left for another job.
Members of the organization's board of directors discovered problems with bookkeeping when a board member offered to help Schaffner with the books. Schaffner had complained about the bookkeeping aspect of her job, they said.
Police said the board member could not find books, but did find a large amount of paperwork and started looking into the center's checking account.
Assistant District Attorney Birgitta Tolvanen handled the prosecution.