Former Utica Mayor Admits To Stealing From Scholarship Fund

Daily Report May 14,2024

The former Republican mayor of Utica, New York, has admitted to stealing donations for a scholarship fund in honor of his late wife.

The mayor, Louis LaPolla, 78, pled guilty on Friday in a federal court in Syracuse to mail fraud for soliciting and then stealing donations intended for his wife, Andrea LaPolla, who passed away in 2018.

LaPolla admitted that he set up a scholarship fund to benefit Utica City School District students pursuing post-secondary education in health-related fields.

He further admitted to receiving $40,000 in donations from individuals and businesses and spending nearly all the money on himself rather than depositing it into the scholarship fund.

The former mayor is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept.10, 2024. The charges against him carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1.5 million and a term of supervised release of up to three years.

He will also be required to pay $38,616 in restitution. LaPolla previously stated that his wife’s death left him with considerable medical debt and that he did not realize he could not borrow money from the scholarship fund to pay off some of that debt. LaPolla also said six students benefited from the scholarships.

The former mayor’s guilty plea comes a few months after he pled guilty in Oneida County Court to a misdemeanor petit larceny charge. The former GOP mayor admitted to using envelopes, stamps, and mailing labels belonging to the Utica City School District to send out fundraising flyers relating to the scholarship.

He was sentenced to 60 days of house arrest and three years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $3,100 in restitution.

LaPolla served as Utica’s mayor from 1984 to 1995. He served on the school board for 21 years, then as the school board president from 2018 to 2022.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), the federal case against LaPolla was investigated by the FBI, with help from the New York State Police and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. U.S. Attorney Michael Perry is prosecuting the case.

 

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