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East Northport woman sentenced to prison for wheelchair charity scam

An East Northport woman did more than steal money from charity, she made people cynical about charitable giving, a Suffolk County judge said Thursday as he sentenced the woman to the maximum of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison.

Maureen Myles, 62, was convicted in July of stealing more than $32,000 from a charity formed to buy a wheelchair-accessible van for a Huntington teen with cerebral palsy.

Judge Fernando Camacho, who presided at her nonjury trial in July, said her actions went beyond the monetary damage. "People became cynical because of what you did. That's despicable," the judge said.

"I'm sorry, your honor," Myles told the judge before he imposed sentence in Suffolk County Court in Central Islip.

"First time you said that. I wonder if you mean it," Camacho said.

"I do, your honor," Myles said, her wrists cuffed behind her back.

Myles helped Pamela Capotosto set up a fundraiser with the understanding that the money would go toward a wheelchair-accessible van for Capotosto's son. When Capotosto asked for an accounting of the money and was repeatedly rebuffed by Myles, she contacted authorities.

Prosecutors said about 100 people donated more than $35,000. Myles pocketed most of that money, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Turk said.

Defense attorney Richard Benson of Garden City said outside court that most of the money Myles was accused of stealing went toward operating expenses for the charity. He said he would appeal the conviction.

"This community did a great thing," Turk said outside court. "They raised, in checks alone, more than $39,000." She said investigators traced only $6,000 and the rest of the money "went to her own personal needs."

She said Myles had served a prison term of 2 to 6 years for a 2004 larceny.

"I believe she is a career scam artist, and given an opportunity to have access to money, she will take it," the prosecutor said.


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