Saratoga County

Sentencing delayed for Milton official’s estranged wife

The estranged wife of Milton town Supervisor Frank Thompson will have three more months to come up w

The estranged wife of Milton town Supervisor Frank Thompson will have three more months to come up with $29,000 in restitution for an elderly woman she has admitted to defrauding.

A clearly frustrated acting Saratoga County Court Judge Karen A. Drago on Wednesday adjourned plans to sentence Deborah Thompson to probation, after she was unable to come up with the money.

“It was my understanding restitution would be paid,” she said.

Now, Thompson will have until March 13 to come up with the full $29,259 she owes, plus $2,152 in back taxes owed to the state of New York. At a minimum, Drago said, Thompson must pay $10,000 in restitution and the back taxes.

Thompson must also provide an evaluation by a state-certified gambling addiction counselor, Drago said. Attorneys on both sides say gambling losses were part of the motive for the thefts.

Thompson, 62, of Ballston Spa, pleaded guilty to attempted third-degree grand larceny on Aug. 24, admitting to taking the money from an 84-year-old woman for whom she was financial guardian.

Thompson left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

Under the plea bargain established at the time, Thompson was to be sentenced to five years’ probation if she made restitution to the nursing home resident. Her attorney, F. Stanton Ackerman of Albany, said the restitution was conditional on selling her house in Ballston Spa, and the house hasn’t sold.

He said the price has been reduced three times, and he will work to “accelerate” any sale, despite the difficult real estate market.

“If it’s not sold, a substantial amount will be paid to reduce the restitution, or it will be paid in full,” Ackerman said in court.

The Thompson home at 71 Thompson St. in Ballston Spa is currently listed for sale for $114,900, Ackerman said, down from an original asking price of $135,000.

If the money isn’t paid by March, Drago said, Thompson will be allowed to withdraw her plea and her prosecution will be able to resume.

Special prosecutor Louise K. Sira said she agreed to a probation sentence, rather than insisting on jail time, with the understanding that the victim would be fully repaid.

“It was disappointing and upsetting, and it’s another delay in the case,” she said after the court proceeding.

Thompson’s estranged husband — Frank Thompson, a four-term Republican town supervisor and vice chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors — lost a party primary in September and will leave office Dec. 31. While he has said he didn’t know of his wife’s actions, many observers believe the charges against her contributed to his election loss.

Sira, who is the Fulton County district attorney, said there is no evidence that Frank Thompson knew about his wife’s illegal actions.

Deborah Thompson was the court-appointed guardian of the victim, who lived at Maplewood Manor, the county-run nursing home. Sira said Thompson wrote checks to herself without the victim’s permission, paid herself for managing the woman’s accounts and used the victim’s credit card for personal expenses, including gambling trips to the Turning Stone and Foxwoods casinos.

“It was a bit of a split between personal expenses and gambling,” Sira said Wednesday.

The thefts occurred between October 2009 and March 2011, when she resigned after learning state police were investigating.

Thompson got to know the victim when she was a manager at the Wilbur Trieble Village senior citizen apartments in Milton and the victim was a resident.

Sira handled the prosecution because Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III recused himself, citing Frank Thompson’s political position.

Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano also recused himself because he was the judge who appointed Deborah Thompson as the victim’s financial guardian. Drago is a Schenectady County Court judge.

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