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Nurse sentenced to 5 years for stealing from Nick Giannaris

White says the late local businessman, philanthropist wanted her to have the money

February 10, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Kelli Fae Marie White
Submitted photo

Although Kelli Fae Marie White told a Washington County judge that the late philanthropist and businessman, Nick Giannaris, wanted her to have the money, she was still sentenced Thursday to five years in state prison for stealing more than $80,000 from him while serving as his nurse.

"Me and Nick were really close, and he did offer to help me with college and things like that," the Hagerstown woman said before  Circuit Judge John H. McDowell handed down the sentence. "I finally took him up on his offer, and I was wrong."

"You have displayed very little remorse for your actions," McDowell told the 40-year-old registered nurse. "You're not facing the fact that your actions were completely unlawful.

"Your convictions indicate you are a thief," the judge told White, reciting her criminal record, which includes forgery and theft convictions in the early 1990s.

McDowell imposed a 15-year sentence, suspending all but five years. White will be on five years of supervised probation after her release, during which time she must pay at least $7,000 in restitution a year, he told her.

White, of 13819 Pennsylvania Ave., pleaded guilty in November to felony theft of more than $500 and a misdemeanor count of theft of less than $1,000. In exchange for the plea, 220 other criminal charges, including forging and issuing false documents and theft, were dismissed.

White was hired by the family to provide home health care for Giannaris beginning in 2007, Assistant State's Attorney Christopher McCormack said when the plea was entered.

Between then and March 2010, she stole 75 checks from Nick and Tina Giannaris, made them payable to herself for amounts up to $2,000, forged Tina Giannaris' signature and cashed them, according to the charging documents filed by the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

White also was charged with stealing jewelry from the family, which she then pawned, the charging documents said. When questioned by investigators in April 2010, White handed over a $30,000 Rolex watch she said Giannaris gave her, the documents said.

"This was a sick man, a dying man. The family put its faith and trust ... in this woman," McCormack told McDowell. "She took advantage of that trust."

Defense attorney Andrea Chee-a-tow told McDowell that White paid $6,000 in restitution to the family on Thursday and asked that she be given a suspended sentence so that she could continue to make payments and support her four children.

McDowell entered a judgment against White for $80,738 still owed to Tina Giannaris and $1,000 to a pawn shop where White pawned some of the belongings.

"Unfortunately, the total amount that was stolen could not be proved," said the Giannarises' daughter, Anastasia Tiches. Jewelry other than what was pawned or turned over to investigators was missing, she said.

Tiches said White was "stealing the whole time she was pretending to be a caring person."

"You can shake your head," White said to the family. "He was only trying to help me, and I'm sorry."

McCormack said after the sentencing that additional insured losses to the family amounted to about $112,000.

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