A former bookkeeper at Schenck Fuels in East Hampton was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution on January 9 in Suffolk County Criminal Court.
Kerri Dewhirst, 38, of Ronkonkoma was charged in the spring of 2011 with felony grand larceny. She was accused of having stolen more than $400,000 from her employers over an extended period of time ending around September 2010. She was no longer working for the company at the time of her arrest, according to East Hampton Village Police.
Ms. Dewhirst pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny in October 2011. Justice James C. Hudson set her sentence. The district attorney’s office received a check for $60,000 in reimbursement and Ms. Dewhirst was ordered to pay $2,000 per month for the next five years. If she misses one payment the bookkeeper will go to jail for a minimum of five years, according to Rodney Herrlin, whose family owns Schenck Fuels. “The judge was adamant about it,” he said.
Mr. Herrlin read a statement in court that accused Ms. Dewhirst of living the high life, most likely with the stolen money, and getting pregnant to avoid prison time. The statement called the sentence “a joke and a slap on the wrist,” although he made clear this week that he did not blame Judge Hudson himself.
“I thanked them for the closure, but basically told them I’m disgusted with the system,” he said. “This thing has made a mockery of the judicial system. For her to come in and rob a business that’s 110 years old, to have her come in and take that money while we were spread pretty thin, this was pathetic.”
Ms. Dewhirst’s attorney, Joseph DiBenedetto of New York City, said that the plea had been negotiated not only by the district attorney’s office but also by the judge and that his client was “happy to get this behind her, and she’s looking forward to moving on with her life.” Ms. Dewhirst will not serve a full 30 days, he said, and, although in the third trimester of her pregnancy, is not expected to give birth while in jail.