2011-01-27 / Front Page

Deputy Dunn Pleads Guilty to Grand Larceny

Staff Reports

Former Putnam County Deputy Sheriff Barbara Dunn accepted a deal Monday when she pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the second degree—the top count in the eight count indictment against her. She also agreed to pay back worker’s compensation benefits that were collected following an injury suffered in 2008.

Dunn’s plea came before Judge Albert Lorenzo as opening statements were about to get underway at the Putnam County Courthouse in front of a nine woman, three man jury. The trial proceedings were expected to last at least a month.

“When you’re trusting your fate to 12 people who don’t even know you, anything can happen regardless of how strong the case is,” Dunn told the Courier Tuesday. “My need for justice is not as strong as my will to survive financially. To me, it’s a complete success to close the door, walk away, and start my life over again and get my family back.”

Had the case gone to trial, and had Dunn been found guilty of grand larceny—a Class C felony—she could have faced up to 15 years in state prison. By taking the deal, Dunn must now reimburse the county for $56,359.56 in worker’s compensation benefits that the prosecution said she was not entitled to.

Defense counsel William Aronwald said by pleading guilty, Dunn was not admitting that her injuries were not job-related. “Barbara has acknowledged that she could have returned to work,” he said.

During Monday’s court appearance, questions arose as to why the defense and prosecution were called into the judge’s chambers before the deal was struck. Judge Lorenzo was unable to comment due to the pending litigation. District Attorney Adam Levy told the Courier that he did not wish to comment, but strongly suggested that anyone interested in the case attend the sentencing this spring.

“All parties met yesterday with the judge in an honest effort to try to resolve the case and I think we did,” Aronwald said.

Dunn, a 13-year career member of the Putnam Sheriff’s Department, will be sentenced on May 3 to five years probation. “The people want her to become gainfully employed so she can pay back the money,” said Christopher York, chief assistant district attorney. “The people felt justice was served.”

Last May, a jury found Dunn guilty to seven felony counts of perjury; as a result, she served three months in Putnam County jail last fall. The counts of perjury had been severed from the original indictment that also charged Dunn with official misconduct and obstruction of administrative duties.

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