Thief jailed when in court empty-handed

Judge says a flight risk when fails to repay theft

Updated: Wednesday, 23 Dec 2009, 6:33 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 23 Dec 2009, 6:33 PM EST

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A convicted thief, who stole $175,000 from her employer and then showed up empty-handed when ordered to pay it back, will spend the holidays behind bars.

Back in August, 54-year-old Peggy Gaiser of Grand Island told a judge she would pay back a portion of what she stole, but came empty-handed to court.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita said, "You're in a court of law and you committed a serious crime. If you're not making an effort to make the victim whole, how do you think the legal system is gonna treat you?"

Justice William Boller reacted by locking her up.

"I do feel you're a flight risk on this," said Boller.

Peggy Gaiser had pleaded guilty to stealing money from this CardSmart store in the Town of Tonawanda where she was the manager.

"It was what we call a 'false void scam,'" explained Sedita.

Sedita wouldn't go into detail about how she was caught, but investigators say she would void large transactions and pocket the money, this was all while she was the store manager here. Investigators say she used most of the money for gambling.

Sedita explained, "Very often in these cases, particularly the higher level thefts, the person doing the theft is the person that the victim or the company or employer has put in charge of watching the money."

She asked the judge for an adjournment to come up with more time to get the $50,000 she owes.

Her attorney, Tom Eoannou, said, "They were unable to refinance a home, but we're still optimistic we'll raise the money and she'll receive a probationary sentence."

Her attorney argues Peggy Gaiser has never been in trouble with the law before, but the judge ordered her to the Holding Center until her next court appearance.

And that court appearance will be in February when she'll be sentenced. Peggy Gaiser could face five to 15 years behind bars if she doesn't pay any of the money back by her sentencing date.