Bernadette Szymanski, 61, of Cheektowaga has been sentenced by Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case to 1- 2/3 to 5 years in prison for stealing nearly half a million dollars from her employer.

In May, Szymanski pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree for the theft.  She also pleaded guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree for not paying state taxes on the money she stole, according to a press release from Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr.'s office. 

Szymanski worked for FPPF Chemical Co., Inc..  Beginning in January of 2002 and continuing until her termination on November 15, 2015, Szymanski stole $491,893 by committing payroll fraud and making unauthorized personal purchases on the company’s American Express credit card.

The theft came to light when Szymanski became embroiled in a dispute with the owner about compensation for bereavement leave, prompting the owner to look into whether Szymanski compensated herself beyond the company’s policy.

Szymanski paid $80,000 toward restitution and will have to continue making payments to her employer’s insurance company after being released from prison.