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Man pleads guilty to seven counts in Glessner embezzlement

State seeks 100-year sentence with five to 15 years suspended for Curtis Pietro

December 20, 2010|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

When he returns to Washington County Circuit Court for sentencing on March 29, the length of Curtis Pietro's sentence will depend in part on how much restitution he can make on the hundreds of thousands of dollars he stole from his former employer.

Pietro, 50, of Hagerstown, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of theft scheme of more than $500 and five counts each of forgery and uttering.

Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said the state is seeking a 100-year sentence, with all but five to 15 years suspended, depending on how much Pietro can repay Glessner Alarm & Communications of Hagerstown.

The restitution figure is still being calculated, but Michael told Judge W. Kennedy Boone III that the figure stood at $691,323.97 as of Monday morning and could end up being in excess of $800,000.

Pietro was indicted in September on 74 counts, including two theft scheme charges and 36 counts each of forgery and uttering, court documents said. Last week the state filed an additional set of eight charges, including theft, forgery and uttering.

Both cases were resolved in Monday's plea hearing, Michael said.

If Pietro is able to generate $200,000 to $250,000 for restitution from the sale of a house and other means by the time of sentencing, the state would seek a sentence of about 11 years, Michael told the judge.

Defense attorney D. Benson Thompson III asked Boone to defer sentencing to allow time to verify the restitution figures. Thompson told the judge he did not expect that a restitution hearing would be necessary.

Pietro will remain free on $25,000 cash bond, money that will be paid to Glessner as part of the restitution, which was a condition Boone set at a bond hearing in October if the case ended in a plea or guilty verdict.

"I think he got a big break considering it was one of the biggest embezzlements in Washington County history," Neal Glessner, president of Glessner Alarm & Communications, said outside of court Monday.

Glessner said in September that company officials discovered internal financial irregularities, which they shared with law enforcement authorities.

"I've known him since he was 16. We treated him like family," said Glessner, who said his company provided Pietro with a good salary and benefits. Pietro had worked for the company since 1986, Glessner said.

Being the company's vice president of finance and a certified public accountant gave Pietro the access and knowledge he needed to carry out the deception, said Glessner, who did not speak during the court proceedings.

"He had the formal training to identify fraud, but that also meant he knew how to conceal it," Glessner said.

Beginning in 2006, Pietro had been paying himself twice, essentially writing himself a regular paycheck and then forging another, Michael said in the statement of facts.

Pietro was able to do that in part by keeping open and depositing money in a bank account that his company was to have closed when it moved its business to another bank, Michael said.

Pietro also was funneling money, in excess of $481,000, into his own American Express account between 2004 and the end of 2008, Michael said.

"A lot of cash was taken out of that account," Michael said.

"Mr. Pietro from Day 1 has taken as much responsibility as he could for the lack of judgment he displayed," Thompson said.

Pietro will try to make as much restitution as possible in the next three months, he said.

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