By MIRANDA ORSO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A former Garvey Hyundai North employee was sentenced to state prison Friday for stealing $1,404,320 in cash and cars from the dealership.
She pleaded guilty on Aug. 2 to second-degree grand larceny.
Julie Perry, 41, of Altona was given an indeterminate sentence of at least five years with up to 15 years in prison.
She was ordered to pay full restitution of more than $1.4 million and a $5,000 fine, along with other court charges and a DNA sample fee.
The decision handed down by Clinton County Court Judge Patrick R. McGill came after State Police investigators, the District Attorney’s Office and dealership owner Sean Garvey spent 22 months painstakingly poring over years’ worth of paperwork showing Perry illegally procured vehicles and altered bookkeeping to pocket money for her own personal use from March 2005 through December 2010.
“She can’t steal anymore from me, so now she steals my time,” he said addressing the court, looking directly at a motionless Perry.
He said his Tom Miller Road dealership in Plattsburgh came dangerously close to closing it after falling out of trust with its bank as a result of the fraudulent transactions, causing distress within his family and the other employees there.
“All $850,000 my family had saved for retirement was used to prevent Garvey Hyundai North from going out of business,” he added.
Garvey later asked the judge for at least 10, with up to 15 years, in prison time for Perry as a result of the “zero restitution, zero remorse” she showed since her December 2010 arrest at the dealership.
Assistant District Attorney Tim Blatchley, who prosecuted the case, said she had made no attempt to make any repayment to Garvey since her arrest.
He called Perry “unremorseful” and said the larcenies, which added up to “hundreds and hundreds of counts” started almost immediately after she was hired.
But Perry denied showing no guilt for her actions during a brief statement to the court.
“The day I was arrested, I said to Sean I was sorry,” she said. “I will say it now that I am sorry to Sean Garvey and to the Garvey employees, the family and the community for what I’ve done.”
She said she will work on making herself a better person behind bars.
“I know it doesn’t mean much, but I can’t do anything else. I just want to thank my family for standing beside me.
“There’s no more I can say,” she added.
Blatchley said Perry went to great lengths to hide her crime, not only from the dealership and its employees but also her family.
He said she admitted in court documents that she stole the cars and cash, in what Garvey called a “serial crime spree,” because it made her life easier.
Perry, who was in charge of maintaining all financial records and banking transactions, used six separate and distinct schemes to steal money — among them depositing cash taken as down payments for vehicles, creating fraudulent bank and deposit slips and purchasing $121,000 worth of cars for herself and her family members.
Garvey admitted she used the embezzled money for trips to Chicago, expensive meals, clothing, massages, salon visits, horse trainers and more.
McGill told Perry her case has left a mark on the community, cracking the foundation of trust between employers and employees.
“I think businesses went into panic mode when they heard what you did to Garvey. Businesses in this community look at people differently now,” he said. “The punishment I dole out, to me, is far less than the punishment that will be doled out by the community when you return to it.”
HAD AN AFFAIR
Perry did not act alone in committing her crimes.
Charles Allen, 42, of Saratoga, who owns ACR Motors, pleaded guilty in August to working with Perry to illegally procure 24 cars worth $136,150. He and his salesman Richard Bashant, 36, of Queensbury altered documents to defraud Garvey.
Bashant, with whom Perry was having an affair at the time, worked with her and Allen to illegally obtain the cars from Garvey Hyundai and sell them for profit to an auto-auction firm.
He appeared in court Sept. 20, 2011, and was sentenced to one year in County Jail based on fourth-degree-conspiracy and petit-larceny convictions, Blatchley said in a press conference following Perry’s sentencing.
But Bashant’s jail sentence was conditionally discharged after he made a restitution payment of $19,733, provided a DNA sample, payed a DNA fee and completed of 100 hours of community service.
The sentence for Allen, who is scheduled to appear in Clinton County Court on Dec. 4, will be based on how much of the remaining $116,417 he is able to repay by that date.
“It is expected he will appear in court with a check for that amount,” Blatchley said.
Both Blatchley and New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Investigator Larry Cragle agreed that the many hours spent building and prosecuting the case took a toll on the Garvey family.
“It took a lot longer than anyone would have hoped, but the outcome is good,” Cragle said.
Sean Garvey did not offer a statement at the press conference, but Blatchley said he was extremely relieved.
“He can start to put all of this behind him,” he said.
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