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Press Release

Former Utica Mayor and School Board President Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Louis LaPolla Stole Nearly $40,000 in Scholarship Donations

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Louis LaPolla, age 78, of Utica, New York, pled guilty today in federal court in Syracuse to mail fraud for soliciting and then stealing donations intended for a scholarship fund in his late wife’s name. United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Craig L. Tremaroli, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the guilty plea.

In pleading guilty, LaPolla admitted that he set up a scholarship fund in honor of his late wife, Andrea LaPolla, after she passed away in 2018, with the stated intention of benefitting Utica City School District students who planned to pursue post-secondary education in health-related fields. LaPolla further admitted that he received nearly $40,000 in donations intended for the scholarship fund from individuals and businesses and that he spent nearly all the donated money on himself rather than depositing it into the scholarship fund. LaPolla served as the mayor of Utica from 1984 to 1995, and he served as President of the Utica City School Board from 2018 to 2022, following 21 years of service as a member of the board.

LaPolla will be sentenced on September 10, 2024, by United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby. The charges filed against LaPolla carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1.5 million, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. The defendant will also be required to pay restitution in the amount of $38,616. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

Earlier this year, LaPolla pled guilty in Oneida County Court to a misdemeanor petit larceny charge after admitting that he used envelopes, stamps, and mailing labels belonging to the Utica City School District to send out fundraising flyers relating to the scholarship. In that case, LaPolla was sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, 3 years of probation, and ordered to pay $3,100 in restitution.

The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from the New York State Police and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry is prosecuting the case.

Updated May 10, 2024

Financial Fraud
Public Corruption