WILKES-BARRE — A woman who prosecutors say stole more than $30,000 from the American Red Cross and was denied acceptance into the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program a third time Thursday will now stand trial on the charges.
Shelly Zito, 44, of West Butler Drive, Drums, was scheduled to be tried on June 10 on four charges relating to the 2009 theft.
Prosecutors say Zito, while working at the American Red Cross, used a credit card to purchase $34,463 in gift cards she allegedly used for personal use. She is charged with felony counts of theft, theft by deception and receving stolen property and a misdemeanor count of tampering with records.
On Thursday, her attorney, Charles Laputka, requested for a third time that his client be allowed to participate in the county’s ARD program. The program allows for defendants to complete a probationary sentence, and if completed successfully, charges are expunged from their record.
Zito had been originally been denied acceptance into the ARD program, and then denied again when Laputka asked for a reconsideration. He said Thursday his client is a perfect candidate for the program and that it would be difficult for Zito, who works as a nurse, to obtain employment and pay restitution if she has a felony conviction.
Laputka also said his client was denied acceptance into the program because she was being “discriminated” against. The source of that discrimination, Laputka said, is that Zito fired a friend of First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce whom she had worked with at another company.
Laputka called Zito to testify about the incident as well as Sanguedolce, who is prosecuting Zito’s case.
Sanguedolce testified he had never heard of the person Laputka is alleging is his friend, and that Zito’s ARD applications had been denied because she is charged with three felonies, is alleged to have taken over $30,000, and is alleged to have taken the money from a charitable organization that helps people in need during disasters.
County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. denied Laputka’s request and scheduled Zito’s trial for June 10 beginning with jury selection.