BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An Amherst man will spend the next three to six years in prison for stealing from his mother-in-law’s bank account, after he was previously convicted of stealing from the same woman.
Judge Thomas Franczyk handed down the prison sentence for David Scheifla in Erie County Court Wednesday morning.
Scheifla pleaded guilty in May to ten counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and ten counts of Petit Larceny, after prosecutors say he stole his 83-year-old mother-in-law’s check book and took more than a thousand dollars out of her account before he was caught last fall.
Scheifla was convicted in 2007 of Grand Larceny for stealing from his mother-in-law.
Scheifla told the court on Wednesday that his mother-in-law had taken him in and he was helping around her house. All the while, he says, he was using heroin and looking to get more money to get more drugs.
“My shortcomings are painfully evident to me, and I am sorry for my addictions and the pain it brings to others,” Scheifla said before learning his sentence Wednesday.
Scheifla said he took responsibility for his actions, and apologized for taking advantage of his mother-in-law.
He said there was no excuse for what he did – and the judge agreed.
“You can’t help someone who is unable or unwilling to help himself. And so far from everything I read about you, you seem to fall into that category,” Judge Franczyk told Scheifla.
Scheifla’s attorney was looking for a measure of leniency in the sentencing, and asked the judge to consider putting Scheifla in a program which would make him eligible for early parole as part of a treatment plan.
Franczyk said he didn’t believe that Scheifla was right for that program. He has a long history of substance abuse and previous attempts at treatment have been unsuccessful, while he has continued to commit crimes.
“We encourage the people who are in need of assistance to overcome the opioid addiction to get it, and there are social service agencies and health agencies out there who want to help. But if you’re going to steal from an older woman, especially your mother-in-law, there are consequences for that. Especially when you’ve done it before,” said Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty, Jr.
“So I hope that he gets treatment in prison, and has a chance to reform himself, work on curing this illness, and come out a better person,” Flaherty added.
Flaherty commended the home health aide who helped uncover Scheifla’s crimes. He says that woman noticed Scheifla’s mother in law was upset when she came out of the bank after noticing her bank account had been depleted. The home health aide then went to the bank management to try to get to the bottom of the situation.
“But for that, who knows how much more could have been stolen,” Flaherty said. “Who knows if he would have ever been caught?”
On top of the prison sentence, Judge Franczyk issued an order of protection for the victim in this case, and he ordered Scheifla to pay back all the rest of the money he took from her.