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Post date: February 6 2007

Columbia County Woman Guilty Of Embezzling Nearly $200,000 Of Inheritance Money From Trust

NEW YORK, NY (February 6, 2007)—Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a Columbia County woman who admitted to embezzling nearly two hundred thousand dollars from the Lena Giannotti Trust, for which she was the sole trustee.

From December 1996 through October 2000, Mary Birch, 64, of Canaan, made payments to herself, relatives, and others that were not authorized by the trust. In doing so, she deprived thirteen beneficiaries of their rightful inheritance. The theft was not discovered until recently, when Ms. Birch failed to distribute the trust and was subsequently unable to account for the missing money.

Ms. Birch pled guilty today to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, before Columbia County Court Judge Jonathan Nichols. Ms. Birch could receive a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison and be ordered to pay $195,714.50 in restitution. Her sentencing will occur on April 10, 2007.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Snyder, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Viola I. Abbitt. New York State Police Investigator Gregory Thomas conducted the investigation. The defendant was represented by David Seth Michaels of Spencertown, New York.