A Brooklyn man lost his probation deal for his role in a cancer charity scam and will go to prison after a judge told him Wednesday he’d thrown away his “second chance” by not coming to court and his new robbery arrest.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Bogle called it one of the “more disturbing and ugly” cases in Nassau’s court system, chastising Vincent Fina, 30, for taking advantage of a family with a sick child instead of getting help for drug addiction.
Fina and his wife, Brittney Schmidt, 31, pleaded guilty in September to a felony charge of scheme to defraud for cheating unsuspecting donors out of thousands of dollars by exploiting the story of a Staten Island boy with brain cancer.
Authorities said the couple, who brought their then-11-year-old son with them while collecting, swindled victims by saying the funds would benefit cancer patient Gianni Incandela, now 6, or help pay for his funeral.
“You were given a second chance . . . but you continued to throw those chances away, sir,” Bogle told Fina, citing several missed appointments with the probation department, two missed court dates, and his December street corner robbery arrest in Brooklyn.
Bogle then sentenced Fina to 1 to 3 years behind bars, revoking a 5-year probation deal that also had included drug treatment and community service but no jail time.
Last year Fina and Schmidt admitted to soliciting donations in at least 10 Nassau County businesses, along with businesses, police precincts and firehouses in Brooklyn and Queens. Earlier this month, the judge also tossed Schmidt’s probation deal, sending her to Nassau’s jail for a year after missed court and probation dates.
Fina’s sentencing brought some relief Wednesday for the family of Gianni, who is continuing to battle a rare brain tumor. Gianni’s grandmother, Dee Tirado, said after leaving the courtroom she was pleased Fina and Schmidt both would be spending time behind bars.
“They’ll think twice about scamming someone else . . . We’re very happy about both of them being off the streets,” the Brooklyn woman said.
Defense attorney Ronald Bekoff had asked the judge for a 1-year jail sentence for his client, calling Fina a drug addict who’d made a number of bad decisions.
“I’m disappointed, I only hope he gets the treatment he needs for his addiction,” the Garden City lawyer said later.
Prosecutor Michelle Sheehan Prior, who asked for 1 to 3 years in prison for Fina, said after court that justice had been done.