Judge Calls NY Auto Body Shop Embezzler ‘Unfixable’ at Sentencing

Suzanne Whitman, wearing Dutchess County Jail orange, accompanied by her attorney at sentencing.

A woman with a criminal history of embezzling money was sent back to prison by Dutchess County Court Judge Edward McLoughlin.

Suzanne Whitman pled guilty to embezzling more than $700,000 from Fishkill Auto Body in Beacon, NY, where she was the bookkeeper. In an intricate scheme involving the manipulation of entries into the accounting software, Whitman admitted she stole money from the company between December 2019 and May 2022.

Whitman was also sentenced to prison for a grand larceny charge stemming to a mortgage fraud indictment that charged her and Robert Essigman, her husband, with lying about her husband’s employment in order to get a mortgage from Ulster Savings Bank.

When Essigman applied for a mortgage with Ulster Savings, he listed Fishkill Auto Body as his employer and claimed to be the parts department manager. When the bank contacted the auto body shop, Whitman claimed to be the office manager and falsely claimed Essigman worked there, making $5,650 a month. Whitman also falsified pay stubs that Essigman submitted as proof. The couple deceived the bank and received a mortgage in excess of $450,000 through the use of Whitman’s access to Fishkill Auto Body computers.

Essigman and Whitman both pled guilty to grand larceny for the mortgage crime earlier this year. Essigman has yet to be sentenced.

With regard to the embezzlement crimes, Peter Geanopulos, a partner in the body shop, explained to the court how Whitman almost destroyed the business and created a substantial rift among the partners.

Dutchess County Senior Assistant District Attorney Liz Kurtz asked McLoughlin to impose the maximum sentence.

When Whitman had the opportunity to apologize, her attorney offered it for her and said his client suffered from mental health issues that cause a lack of impulse control, which resulted in her repeated thefts.

McLoughlin countered, calling the excuse “insulting” to those who actually suffer from mental health issues. Recalling her previous prison term, McLoughlin told the defendant, “I don’t think you are fixable,” and added, “I don’t think you should be let out again.”

For that series of financial crimes, Whitman was sentenced to seven to 14 years in prison for grand larceny and ordered to pay $714,000 in restitution. That prison sentence is to be served consecutively with a sentence of two to four years for the mortgage fraud crime. Her total sentence is nine to 18 years in prison, followed by five years of post-release supervision.

We thank the Mid Hudson News for reprint permission.

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