Former Utica Mayor pleads guilty to stealing about $40k from his late-wife’s scholarship fund

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — 78-year-old Louis LaPolla of Utica pled guilty in federal court in Syracuse on Friday, May 10.

LaPolla pled to soliciting and then stealing donations that were meant to be used for a scholarship fund that was under his late wife’s name.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Craig L. Tremaroli, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the guilty plea.

The 78-year-old served as Utica’s mayor from 1984 to 1995 and the president of the Utica City School Board from 2018 to 2022, following 21 years of service as a member of the board.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, LaPolla admitted that he set up a scholarship fund in honor of his late wife, Andrea LaPolla, after she passed away in 2018, with the stated intention of benefitting Utica City School District students who planned to pursue post-secondary education in health-related fields.

Furthermore, he admitted to receiving almost $40,000 in donations from individuals and businesses that were meant to be used for the scholarship fund, but instead, he spent on himself.

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LaPolla will be sentenced on Sep. 10, 2024, by United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby.

U.S. Attorney’s Office says the charges against him can put him in prison for a maximum of 20 years, with a fine of up to $1.5 million, and a supervised release of up to three years.

He will be required to pay restitution for the amount of money he wrongfully spent, equating to $38,616.

Earlier this year, LaPolla pled guilty in Oneida County Court to a misdemeanor petit larceny charge after he admitted to using stamps, envelopes, and mailing labels belonging to the Utica City School District to send out the fundraising flyers.

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

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the New York State Police and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry is prosecuting the case.

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