STAMFORD, Conn. -- A special education supervisor stole more than $650,000 from her elderly aunt to fund vacations in France, gambling and other expenses during a five-year period, Stamford police said.
Barbara Pyne, 62, of 78 Wolfpits Road, Bethel, turned herself in to city police early Thursday and was released on a $25,000 bond after appearing for arraignment in state Superior Court Thursday afternoon. The woman, who was handcuffed behind her back, didn't say anything during her court appearance.
Police were notified by a Department of Social Services employee in April that an 84-year-old client was a victim of embezzlement. Stamford Police investigators Michael Stempien and Sean Coughlin started digging and discovered that from April 2008 through to October 2013 that the victim's niece, Barbara Pyne, had misappropriated $656,406, police said.
The victim told investigators that several years ago she had signed over power of attorney to her niece, police said. The funds that Pyne controlled were slated to pay for her hospital and living expenses at the Sunrise of Stamford assisted living facility police said. The 84-year-old Bronx, N.Y., woman moved into the facility in 2009. The monthly bill at the facility was $6,000 according to the arrest warrant.
But Pyne instead went on a spending spree and used the funds to pay off her mortgage and credit card bills and to finance vacations to France, police said. She also lost over $100,000 of the victim’s money gambling at various casinos, police said.
It was in late 2013 that Pyne realized there was only about $20,000 left in her aunt's account and confessed to her aunt. The aunt also had $23,184 in unpaid bills at Sunrise of Stamford, according to the arrest warrant.
Pyne has reimbursed the victim $357,100, by selling her Stamford home and and a vacation residence on Cape Cod police said, bringing the total net loss to $299,306.
The aunt was initially reluctant to have her niece arrested but eventually decided to proceed with the complaint, police said.
Pyne has been a special education teacher for 18 years and has become a special education supervisor, the court heard during her appearance Thursday.
In an emailed statement her lawyer, Mark Sherman, said his client is determined to repay the money.
“This debt arises from an agreement between family members that went sideways," he wrote. "Barbara intends on making her family members whole as quickly as possible."
Although it wasn't mentioned in court where she works, it is believed she works in a New Jersey school system.
Sherman declined to comment on issues regarding Ms. Pyne’s employment.
Pyne, who is a widow and has three children and a grandchild. She is staying with her sister, mother and brother in law in Bethel.
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