Middletown Man Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Stealing from Law Firm, Brother
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that STEPHEN T. GIONFRIDDO, 68, of Middletown, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling more than $500,000 from his former employer, and stealing nearly $400,000 from his brother to pay back his employer.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Gionfriddo was hired by a Rocky Hill law firm as a paralegal in approximately August 2013. Beginning in approximately December 2013, Gionfriddo caused the firm’s bookkeeper to prepare checks payable to various of Gionfriddo’s creditors by misrepresenting that the funds were needed to pay client expenses. Gionfriddo also intercepted numerous checks payable to the law firm or to the firm’s clients, endorsed the checks over to himself, and then deposited the checks into his personal bank account for his own use.
In July 2017, Gionfriddo forged the signature of one of the firm’s partners on a Notice of Certificate Maturity in order to cancel a certificate of deposit (CD) in the name of one of the firm’s clients, and then mailed the form. When the $112,748.21 distribution check representing the proceeds of the client’s CD was mailed to the firm, Gionfriddo intercepted it, forged the signature of the payee, and converted it to his own use.
Through this scheme, Gionfriddo stole $543,372.21 from the law firm and its clients.
In late September 2017, the principals at the law firm confronted Gionfriddo about the theft of funds, and Gionfriddo promised to repay the firm. On October 3, 2017, Gionfriddo called the Thrift Savings Plan (“TSP”), a defined contribution plan for federal employees, and impersonated his brother, who had worked for the federal government, maintains a TSP account, and suffers from a debilitating medical condition. During the call, Gionfriddo obtained information about how to effect a hardship withdrawal of money from the account and have it sent to a bank account he controlled. Gionfriddo also was advised on that call that TSP would issue a Form 1099 in January as a result of the hardship withdrawal.
On October 4, 2017, Gionfriddo faxed a form requesting a withdrawal of $195,000 from his brother’s TSP account for “medical expenses.” Gionfriddo directed the TSP to deposit the funds into a bank account that he controlled.
In an effort to conceal this scheme from his brother, Gionfriddo contacted the U.S. Postal Service and had his brother’s mail held for the entire month of January 2018.
Gionfriddo also stole from his brother’s bank and investment accounts in the total amount of $201,518.
Judge Meyer ordered Gionfriddo to pay restitution of $446,111.67, most of which is owed to Gionfriddo’s brother.
Gionfriddo was arrested on a criminal complaint on June 12, 2018. On November 20, 2018, he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Gionfriddo, who is released on bond, was ordered to report to prison on April 1, 2019.
In 2006, Gionfriddo was convicted of federal wire fraud and mail fraud offenses for embezzling more than $633,000 from clients while acting as their attorney. In October 2006, he was sentenced in Hartford federal court to 30 months of imprisonment. To date, he has paid $44,910.66 in restitution to victims of this previous crime.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan L. Wines.