A former bookkeeper who admitted last year to stealing nearly $60,000 from her employer was sentenced Friday to two months of weekends in jail.
Suzanne M. Endres, 41, of Niskayuna, was given the sentence by Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago. Endres faced as much as six months in jail under a plea agreement.
Drago said she took into account Endres’ lack of criminal history, the aim to ensure Endres remains a productive member of society, and ensuring she is punished for her crime.
“I feel this sentence is fair,” Drago said. “It may not meet everyone’s expectations, but I do feel the point is being made to you, Ms. Endres, and I do believe it is life-altering.”
Endres’ attorney, Steven Kouray, said later that while he was hoping his client would get only probation, he commended the judge for what he called a fair balancing act.
The owner of the business Endres bilked, though, later said he believed the sentence was light in comparison to what she did. John Busino, owner of JBS, LLC, in Glenville, said later he understood the court had to do what it had to do, but said he was disappointed with the outcome.
“I feel she got off pretty easy for the amount of money she took and for the breach of trust she’s had,” Busino said. “I think it’s a bad example to the community.”
Endres pleaded guilty to five felony charges in October, essentially pleading guilty to each charge against her as part of a deal made directly with Drago. She pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree grand larceny, one of fourth-degree grand larceny and two of first-degree falsifying business records.
Endres was accused of taking the money from JBS during a 2 1/2-year period. She was fired in August 2011 after company officials discovered the money was missing.
The thefts, though, are believed to have gone back more than five years, with prosecutor Katie McCutcheon saying later evidence showed she “tested the water,” taking ever-increasing amounts.
McCutcheon argued for the maximum sentence under the deal. Endres’ deception and thefts were systematic and calculated, McCutcheon said, and the thefts were not isolated.
She also did it in three distinct methods, McCutcheon said later. Endres diverted company funds into her retirement account, netting $23,000 there. She made out checks for payments to cash, taking excess money for herself. She also asked for payroll advances, then still took her regular check.
In his own statement to the court, Busino notedhis steel fabrication company provides 16 families with their livelihoods. He also once considered Endres among those valued employees.
He also said the thefts happened during the worst recession in his lifetime. It was a time where he was forced to layoff employees for the first time and cut back hours.
Endres, he said, was fully aware of the company’s position, and she stole anyway.
“Suzanne’s greed and heartless actions put employee’s jobs at risk and amplified the stress level, which caused many sleepless nights,” Busino’s statement read.
He also said he believed Endres only regretted that she got caught.
He said laterthe company is on better footing today. Had the thefts not been spotted when they were, he believed he wouldn’t be able to say that.
Kouray said his client apologized in court, the first opportunity she had to do so, considering the charges against her.
Endres, he said, has owned up to her actions. With the help of family, she has made full restitution to Busino. She still owes $20,000 to an insurance company.
As to why she took the money, Kouray said the thefts came at a time when her husband was injured and out of work.
“Things just piled up and got out of hand,” he said.
Kouray said a sentence of straight jail time would have been counterproductive. She now has a new, full-time job. The sentence of weekends will allow her to remain a productive member of society.
Drago referenced that in her comments in court. No matter what sentence is imposed, Drago said the goal is always rehabilitation.
“Ms. Endres, what you did, morally, you have to figure out if you can ever rectify what has transpired here.”
What the judge didn’t want to happen was for Endres to become unemployed.
“That would be counterproductive to the tenants of the criminal justice system,” she said.
The jail time imposed, Drago said, will be life-altering for Endres.
“Going into the general population over there, “ Drago said, referring to the jail, “is going to be an eye-opening experience for you.”
Endres’ jail time is to start next weekend.