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Westmoreland

Jeannette woman gets probation in theft

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, 7:06 a.m.

A Jeannette woman will serve seven years on probation for stealing from a credit union where she worked as a teller.

Martina Papa, 64, apologized before a Westmoreland County judge Tuesday for stealing more than $42,000 over a period of years from the Teamsters Local 30 Federal Credit Union.

“I am very sorry for all the problems I caused. I am asking for forgiveness,” Papa said before being sentenced by Judge Christopher Feliciani to probation, which includes a year of home confinement.

Papa worked at the credit union for more seven years. On numerous occasions, she took small amounts of cash and falsified records to indicate money had been deposited in the bank, police said.

Papa pleaded guilty to theft charges in August.

Defense attorney Matthew Schimizzi said Papa maintained she was coerced by a credit union official, who has since died, to take the money on his behalf then continued to take more cash to help her repay loans she secured from the financial organization. The thefts eventually were discovered in 2015 during a routine audit of credit union finances.

Papa chose to halt falsifying records as a means to end the thefts prior to the audit, Schimizzi said.

“It was just a situation where she got into it and couldn't get out,” Schimizzi said.

Feliciani said he imposed a mitigated sentence to keep Papa out of jail as “mercy,” noting her lack of a prior criminal record and a need to care for an ailing spouse.

“It only leads me to a conclusion that the criminal activity is not reflective of your character,” Feliciani said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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