The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 29, 2012

SUNY Oneonta theft case adjourned

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — A felony theft case involving a public college employee arrested last year has been adjourned until Jan. 8, Oneonta City Court officials said.

Susan Sorbera, 47, of Burlington Flats, was charged June 30, 2011, with grand larceny by SUNY Oneonta University Police. According to documents filed in Oneonta City Court, she is accused of stealing $2,273 from the college’s Health Center cash drawer.

Richard Rothermel, attorney for Sorbera, said she has pleaded not guilty to the charge. The case has been prolonged because of time needed to seek background materials for her defense, he said Wednesday.

Michael Getman, chief assistant district attorney for Otsego County, said he has offered a deal for Sorbera to enter a guilty plea to a misdemeanor and pay restitution. Rothermel has requested many adjournments, including postponements to pursue a voice-analysis test for Sorbera, which is unlikely to change his view of the case, Getman said Tuesday. Sorbera has denied any wrongdoing from the beginning, he said.

Getman said Sorbera’s case has taken longer to prosecute than similar cases and he is frustrated by the adjournments. If the misdemeanor office isn’t accepted, Getman said Wednesday, he will hand it over to District Attorney John Muehl to prosecute in Otsego County Court.

Sorbera was a keyboardist in the Health Center from October 1997 to February 2011, court papers said.

In 2009, Sorbera earned $28,675, according to the most recent information available from the SeeThroughNY website.

An internal audit at SUNY Oneonta reported that birth control products were sold in 75 transactions on 40 dates between Dec. 1, 2009, and Nov. 5, 2010, but no corresponding deposits were made, the felony complaint said. Sorbera was responsible for birth control deposits and receipts during the time referenced.

In a Nov. 5, 2010, statement to police filed with the court papers, Sorbera said at times she borrowed $20 or $40, sometimes to pay for lunch or gas. But the money was replaced within a day or two, she said, and she regretted taking it.

Sorbera is a keyboard specialist, or secretary, in the college’s Center for Social Responsibility and Community. She didn’t return a voice mail message left about noon Wednesday on her telephone line there.

She has worked at SUNY Oneonta since 1993 in several positions in various departments, including financial aid, counseling and admissions, college director of communications Hal Legg said Wednesday after being asked about her employment status.

“This is not a personnel matter being adjudicated on campus,’’ Legg said. “Once the case is decided, if the college takes action, it will be consistent with applicable policies.’’