The former senior clerk of the Southold Town Justice Court was sentenced Wednesday to 6 months in jail and 5 years' probation for stealing $231,000 in fines, bail money and other revenue from town court coffers.
Christine Stulsky, 65, of New Suffolk, who admitted Jan. 14 to the thefts over five years beginning in January 2009, will repay the money as part of her plea to second-degree grand larceny, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.
Assistant District Attorney Melisa Bliss said Stulsky has repaid $50,000 and owes $181,791. Stulsky will make a second $50,000 payment by Sept. 30 and repay the rest when released, Bliss said.
Stulsky said she regretted her actions "and the people that I hurt," before state Supreme Court Justice John Collins sentenced her in Riverhead. He said he believed her remorse was genuine. "However, a public trust was violated -- and for that there must be consequences," the judge said.
Stulsky's job was to collect and deposit funds and reconcile court bank accounts. Prosecutors said she stole money to pay her own living expenses.
Stulsky had worked for the court since 1980. She resigned after her arrest last March. Southold Town then launched an independent audit of the court's accounts.
Southold Town said in a statement that Stulsky's "blatant and intentional breach of the public's trust has irreparably harmed the people . . . and directly damaged the integrity of our Justice Court."
Her attorney, John D. Strode, said Stulsky will "pay back every penny." He said after court that his office had arranged financing for the repayments.
At Stulsky's January guilty plea, her attorney at the time, Lane Bubka, said Stulsky felt "terrible" but was facing "significant turmoil."
Bubka said she "raised two children on her own and she was in a terrible car accident . . . when she fell down on her luck and couldn't pay the bills, she turned to something she assumed would be short term."
In its statement, Southold Town said it was "disturbed" by Stulsky's motive.
"Our office has single mothers who would never participate in such an act," the town said.
With John Valenti