A South Glens Falls woman who was accused of defrauding $1 million from clients through her manufactured and modular home business, has one week to accept a plea deal which would include up to nine years in state prison.
Sherrie A. Burton, 65, appeared in Saratoga County Court on Monday afternoon to seek an adjournment in court proceedings while she consults with a family member who is a lawyer, despite the fact that the plea deal offered by the state Attorney General’s Office was set to expire on Monday.
On July 23, according to representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, it was conveyed to Burton that she could enter into a plea deal for one count of second-degree grand larceny, and one count of scheme to defraud, with a total combined sentence of no less than six months incarceration and five years of probation, and not more than three to nine years incarceration in a state correctional facility.
That plea deal, prosecutors said, would cover the fraud and larceny counts, as well as additional uncharged crimes that the Attorney General’s Office uncovered, which included money laundering and falsifying business records.
Potentially, if Burton fails to take the plea deal, they said, she could be charged in additional counties including Albany, Oneida, Warren and Washington.
According to Glens Falls-based lawyer Tucker Stanclift, who represents Burton, she informed him on Friday that she wanted to speak to a relative who is also an attorney.
Initially, when Burton was arrested, she faced nine counts of theft and fraud and could face up to 20 years in prison.
The state Attorney General’s Office and state police, who investigated the case, said in February that Burton took deposits, down payments and full payments for houses through her businesses, Valued Manufactured Housing and Valued Homes, and used the money for personal expenses.
Prosecutors allege that between at least March 2015 and July 2018, Burton falsely told customers that they needed to make a substantial deposit in order for construction to begin on their homes.
In some cases, prosecutors say, she used this money for purchases at Zynga Games, Amazon.com and the Home Shopping Network; expenditures at Turning Stone Resort and Casino; payments for hotels, groceries, gas and alcohol; credit card payments and cash
In other cases, they said, she used new deposits to pay manufacturers for houses she’d promised to prior customers months earlier.
On Monday Saratoga County Judge James A. Murphy reprimanded Burton for seeking an extension on the plea deal, noting that her case had already gone through a number of what he called “procedural machinations.”
“Ms. Burton, while you are presumed innocent and while you enjoy the constitutional guarantee of such, the court is not pleased with your eleventh hour attempt to adjourn the matter to now conference with yet another attorney,” Murphy said.
“I will grant your application. I do understand now that you have a family member who is an attorney. Why you haven’t been discussing your case with that person for months now, I have no idea, and you don’t have to tell me. But you should know that my patience is running out.”
Burton will be back in court on Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m.