The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

October 3, 2013

Grandmother going to prison for embezzling

HERMITAGE — At 65, Jeanne M. Zacherl is at the age where she should be contemplating retirement, said her attorney Robert R. Leight.

Instead, Zacherl walked out of a courtroom Wednesday in handcuffs, the result of a gambling addiction that led her to embezzle more than $1 million from her employer.

“This is a very sad case,” Leight said.

Albert R. Puntureri, the owner of the aggrieved company, Interstate Chemical of Hermitage, wasn’t won over by Leight’s description of the heath problems of Zacherl and her husband, her seeking counseling for her addiction or his depiction of her finances as being modest. He wanted his pound of flesh.

Some of the money Zacherl stole would have been passed onto employees as pay raises, Puntureri said.

“Everyone at the company has been affected by it,” he said. “Just turmoil at the company because of it.”

Puntureri asked for the maximum sentence, 3 1/2  to 7 years for the third-degree felony charge of theft she pleaded guilty to Aug. 6.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson didn’t go that far, but imposed a state prison term of 1 to 5 years. Since she has no criminal history, she qualifies for a good-time program and Dobson said she could serve as little as 9 months. State Board of Probation and Parole will determine when she is released.

“This is the largest theft I have ever had before me,” Dobson said. “You deserve penitentiary time. To do less would minimize the thing.”

Zacherl’s family members gasped when Dobson ordered the prison term.

Zacherl’s crime caused the same type of damage as someone breaking into a house, and her gambling addiction is no different from someone addicted to alcohol or drugs, Dobson said.

“You’re hurting people you know, who love and care for you,” Dobson said. “That says something about your character.”

Zacherl, of 1272 Mercer West Middlesex Road, East Lackawannock Township, apologized to Interstate Chemical and Puntureri.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” said the mother of two and grandmother of six. “I hurt my family. I lost co-workers, friends. They were like family to me.”

She said she knows the amount of money she stole is “a lot.”

“I will try to pay it back,” she said.

Can someone pay back that amount of money?

“I doubt that there’s any way to pay that back in her lifetime,” said Assistant District Attorney Daniel Davis.

Puntureri is going to try to make her, but he didn’t get a lot of help Wednesday.

He was hoping her assets could be seized, but Davis said the criminal system for restitution doesn’t work that way. Zacherl enters a payment plan with the county and makes monthly payments.

Davis said Puntureri would have to use civil laws if he wanted to try to seize her bank accounts or her double-wide mobile home.

Leight said Zacherl had used up all of her family funds.

Zacherl stole $1,126,763 by creating fictitious vendor accounts and transferring money into them, and then her personal checking account, between October 2008 and September 2012, Hermitage police said.

She was a 22-year-veteran of the company, last working as accounts payable manager.

Her husband, Daniel J., was fired by the company after 27 years as a truck driver. The couple has denied that he had any knowledge of his wife’s dealings, while the company claims in a civil suit that he “consented to and acquiesced in” her crimes. Puntureri said Daniel drove her to Mountaineer Casino, Race Track and Resort, Chester, W.Va., where she lost the fortune on $10 slots.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • To demolish or not Tear it down? Fix it up?

    In 2007, Richard D. Givens bought a home at 831 Knobwood Drive in Hermitage for $245,000.
    Today, the city of Hermitage is seeking the demolition of the now-vacant house, arguing the damage from water infiltration makes the structure not worth saving.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 19, 2014

    April 19, 2014

  • Man admits having child porn

    A Mercer man accused of soliciting and downloading photographs of nude teenage girls pleaded guilty April 8 to sexual abuse of children for possessing child pornography.

    April 19, 2014

  • Police getting new tool to fight crime

    Sharon police working at crime scenes will be putting a powerful new investigative tool to work as soon as next month.

    April 19, 2014