A federal judge turned away a former Grove City woman’s plea for probation on a mail fraud charge.
Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab, Pittsburgh, sentenced Kelly A. Burdette, 45, of Harrisville, to 1 year and 1 day in prison, followed by 4 years’ supervised release.
Burdette also must pay $45,108 restitution, the proceeds of illegally obtained student loans.
Burdette’s attorney, Christy P. Foreman, Pittsburgh, argued that a probationary sentence would allow Burdette to work as a licensed practical nurse, pay restitution and care for her adult son, who is autistic and cannot live on his own. She said there is no one else to care for him.
Foreman also predicted that prison would exacerbate Burdette’s mental and physical health conditions, which include major depressive and panic disorder, colonic polyps and emphysema.
Incarcerating “Ms. Burdette would serve only a punitive purpose,” Foreman said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo M. Dillon argued that a sentence within the guidelines, 8 to 14 months, was appropriate, given Burdette’s conduct and a prior conviction on a charge of theft from 2002 in Crawford County.
Concerning Burdette’s health, Dillon said her conditions are “effectively treated with medication,” and do not warrant a break in her sentence.
Schwab said he chose a prison sentence because Burdette’s previous probationary sentence on the theft charge did not deter her from committing a new crime, and that the new crime occurred over an extended period of time and involved many victims, prosecutors said.
Burdette obtained four loans from four different private lenders between March 2006 and February 2007, according to the indictment handed down June 28.
She used the name of her daughter, who was a student at Slippery Rock University, on loan applications and forged her daughter’s signature on the applications and the loan checks, prosecutors said.
The daughter did not know that her name had been used, prosecutors said.
Burdette, also known as Kelly Montifiori and Kelly Sturgis, lived in Grove City at the time.
U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, state police and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency investigated Burdette.
Burdette also was charged with a second count of mail fraud and two counts of uttering and possessing forged securities. Upon a motion from prosecutors, Schwab dismissed those charges at her sentencing.