Ms. Stulsky leaving court last year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)
Christine Stulsky, the former Southold Town Justice Court Clerk accused of stealing funds from the court while she worked there, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny Wednesday and will be sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation March 11.
Ms. Stulsky also agreed to pay back $231,791 in funds stolen from the town bail account over a number of years. The restitution will be made over a five-year period while she is under probation, according to assistant district attorney Melisa Bliss.
Ms. Stulsky’s attorney, Lane Bubka, said she could otherwise have faced between five and 15 years in jail. By agreeing to the plea, she waives her right to a trial as well as to an appeal.
Ms. Stulsky remains free on $50,000 bail until her sentencing.
The 65-year-old New Suffolk resident appeared in court wearing a brown coat and surrounded by family members. She told County Court Judge John Collins that she had agreed to and signed the plea agreement, and she acknowledged that she did steal the money.
“You understand that if you are charged with another crime prior to your sentencing, you could face greater penalties?” Judge Collins asked Mr. Stulsky.
“Yes,” she responded.
In March, she pleaded not guilty to the felony grand larceny charge and charges of defrauding government and official misconduct.
Ms. Stulsky, who worked for the town since 1980 until her resignation last march, declined to comment afterward. But her attorneys, Mr. Bubka and John Strode, issued the following statement to the Suffolk Times: “Christine is remorseful and accepts responsibility for her actions. She deeply regrets how this has affected the justices of the court, her co-workers, the Town Board and all of the residents of Southold Town. Christine is forever grateful for the help of her family and friends who have supported her through this, and have made it possible for her to pay back every dollar taken.”
The case was before Judge Collins at the county court in Riverside since the Southold Town judges recused themselves from the case.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said “the town is pleased that this chapter has now closed.”
“We have a new Justice Court Director and are confident that policies and procedures will be put in place so acts like these never happen again,” he said.