An­so­nia man gets prison in theft from fam­ily

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - News - By Phyl­lis Swe­bil­ius

MIL­FORD — Af­ter apol­o­giz­ing to the court and his fam­ily, Joseph A. Ukanow­icz, 30, was sent to prison for ru­in­ing the home and fi­nances of his grand­mother, Karin King, of An­so­nia.

“I’m sorry for ev­ery­thing. I’ve had a lot of time to think,” he said. “The drugs, the steal­ing, I’ve learned that’s not the way to be.”

Con­victed of first- de­gree lar­ceny, Ukanow­icz was sen­tenced Thurs­day by state Su­pe­rior Court Judge Frank Ian­notti to 12 years in prison, sus­pended af­ter 63 months, with five years of pro­ba­tion.

His mother, Kristina Ukanow­icz, 63, was sen­tenced by Ian­notti on May 25 to serve 12 years in prison, sus­pended af­ter 4 ½ years.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found King’s fi­nances de­pleted and her house with­out power or run­ning wa­ter. The cop­per pipes were re­moved and the fur­ni­ture was sold off. An aban­doned car and a filled dump­ster were in the yard, As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Amy Bepko told the judge.

Joseph Ukanow­icz lived with King in her Hull Street home with his mother, girl­friend and son, Bepko said. King died at age 84 in June 2015. Kristina and Joseph Ukanow­icz were ar­rested in 2017. He had been held in lieu of $ 50,000 bail at Bridge­port Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter.

The two did not have King’s ap­proval to use the funds for them­selves, his ar­rest war­rant af­fi­davit said. Al­most $ 200,000 was taken from her ac­counts, it said.

Be­fore the sen­tenc­ing, Bepko pre­sented the state’s case.

The money was used to “sup­port his heroin habit,” Bepko said. Ukanow­icz’s prior ar­rest record in­cludes drug charges; while he has been in jail he has seven dis­ci­plinary tick­ets, Bepko said.

King had been liv­ing com­fort­ably on her own, with rental in­come and in­vest­ments. Then Kristina Ukanow­icz; her hus­band; her son and his fam­ily of two moved in with her. They would care for her, while they got back on their feet, Bepko said.

Then the tenants on the first and third floors were “kicked out,” and King called po­lice in 2015. The home was “dis­man­tled,” Bepko said. There was no heat.

King con­tracted pneu­mo­nia and was hos­pi­tal­ized. She told her son, “I don’t want to go home,” Bepko said. The bank ac­counts were drained and closed. “She had enough to last for the rest of her life,” Bepko said.

The King fam­ily wanted the max­i­mum pun­ish­ment for Ukanow­icz, Bepko told the judge. “Their mother may have had more time if she had been treated fairly,” Bepko said.

Pub­lic De­fender Susan Brown painted a picture of a man un­able to do any­thing about his drug use.

“He is deeply sorry for his part in this,” Brown said.

When it was his turn to speak, Ukanow­icz apol­o­gized to his fam­ily. His grand­mother was “al­ways there” for him, he said.

Be­fore hand­ing down the sen­tence, Ian­notti told Ukanow­icz: “You said all the right things ... in the right way. The only way you can move for­ward ... is upon your re­lease, you live them out.

“I re­main in dis­be­lief that a young man and his mother can do such a thing to the fam­ily, and her mother. It’s hard to lis­ten to. It’s not sup­posed to be what fam­ily is about. ... You turned on them.”

“Have you thought about how your grand­mother ... had to leave this world? If that doesn’t bother you ... there’s some­thing wrong with you. We have an obli­ga­tion to the el­derly to re­spect them,” the judge said.

“Quite hon­estly, I could go on about how much this is trou­ble­some.”

First, he said, “You are go­ing to have to look at your­self in the mir­ror an­other 50 years.” Ukanow­icz is go­ing to have to de­cide how much to ex­plain his ac­tions to his son, the judge said.

“You have to de­cide what your son looks up to,” the judge said.

An­so­nia Po­lice Depart­ment

Joseph Ukanow­icz

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