Montville synagogue’s bookkeeper sentenced to 364 days in jail for $64K theft

| May 1, 2010

MONTVILLE — A former bookkeeper of the Pine Brook Jewish Center in Montville was sentenced today to 364 days in jail and five years of probation for stealing $64,000 from the facility and forging a doctor's letter claiming she had cancer.

Andrea Melchione, 40, of Hampton, Sussex County, initially was charged only with theft in the case. After she pleaded guilty to that charge, prosecutors were going to agree to give her a sentencing break — probation and community service – because she told them she had cancer and stole the money to pay medical bills, authorities said.

She even submitted letters from a doctor backing up her claim, authorities said. But prosecutors were skeptical because the physician’s name was misspelled and the missives had the wrong letterhead, said Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Brian DiGiacomo.

“They were, in fact, fake,” DiGiacomo said of the letters.

Her original guilty plea then was vacated, and she was charged with forgery. She later pleaded guilty to those violations and was sentenced today in Superior Court in Morristown.

Her attorney, Douglas Del Tufo, sought probation and told Judge Philip Maenza that Melchione had no prior offenses and would respond positively to probation.

“I apologize,” Melchione said in seeking leniency. “I overstepped my boundaries.”

The funds were stolen between March 2007 and September 2008 from the synagogue, which was founded in 1896 and has a 500-family congregation.

DiGiacomo, who sought a 364-day jail term, also said Melchione has not paid any restitution.

“She’s a scam artist,” DiGiacomo said. “We initially gave her a break. She squandered that opportunity.”

Maenza agreed and in imposing sentence told Melchione, “I can’t believe anything you say.”

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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