Ex-bookkeeper Angela DiPietro-Sabatine admits to stealing $2.6 million from Delaware River waterfront for gambling and vacation

A former bookkeeper for the government-backed nonprofit that runs Penn’s Landing, Spruce Street Harbor Park and other riverside attractions Friday agreed to a prison term of about five years after admitting more than $2.6 million from embezzled the organization.

Angela DiPietro-Sabatine, who oversaw the finances of the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. from 1996 to 2019. managed, a federal judge said she took the money to fuel a gambling addiction and to fund vacations in the Bahamas and Hawaii.

Although she agreed to pay back the money she stole, pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, and struck a deal with prosecutors to ensure they would recommend that she not be in jail for more than 65 months. jail, left to U.S. District Judge Joshua D. Wolson to decide whether to accept those terms at her May hearing.

Prosecutors say DiPietro-Sabatine, 57, of Pennsauken, regularly used her access to the DRWC’s books to create fake invoices, discount checks to herself and forge signatures of nonprofit executives so she could put money in her account. to deposit.

Because she reportedly listed the withdrawals as payments to legitimate suppliers, the organization’s auditors failed to notice the missing funds for at least seven years.

They discovered the false payments after DiPietro-Sabatine was fired for what the nonprofit described as “unrelated performance issues” and she was no longer there to explain away the discrepancies.

DiPietro appeared in court on Friday, speaking softly as Wolson ran her through a series of basic questions to ensure she understood the terms of her plea deal.

She struggled to voice her opinion as prosecutors laid out their case against her and the judge asked if they had accurately described what she had done.

“Pretty much,” she said hesitantly.

Her attorney, Nino V. Tinari, said little in court during Friday’s hearing and did not immediately respond to requests for comment afterward.

Prosecutors have previously said that DiPietro-Sabatine spent at least $10,000 of her ill-gotten money each month at area casinos. In one case, she reportedly lost more than $34,000 on a gambling trip to California in 2017.

The rest reportedly went on trips to Lake Tahoe, Disney World, the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and the Hawaiian Disney Resort.

The theft, while significant, is not expected to affect DRWC’s future operations as it spans several years, an agency spokesman said at the time of DiPietro-Sabatine’s arrest in April. It has vowed to strengthen its financial controls to prevent similar thefts by employees in the future.

The nonprofit was created to develop the waterfront land between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues. The nonprofit launched and operates several recreational destinations such as Penn’s Landing, the Spruce Street Harbor Park, and the Blue Cross RiverRink festivals.

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