Ex-Planned Par­ent­hood ac­coun­tant sen­tenced to jail

Kwoka gets 1 to 3 years for steal­ing $102,733

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Thomas J. Pro­haska NEWS NI­A­GARA RE­PORTER email: tpro­[email protected]

LOCKPORT – Melissa S. Kwoka, the for­mer ac­coun­tant for Planned Par­ent­hood of Western New York who em­bez­zled more than $100,000 from the or­ga­ni­za­tion, was sen­tenced Fri­day to one to three years in state prison for fail­ing to pay the money back.

Ni­a­gara County Judge Sara Sheldon chose a prison term for Kwoka, 46, of Corinthia Street, Lockport, who ad­mit­ted to a vi­o­la­tion of pro­ba­tion on her orig­i­nal guilty plea to sec­ond-de­gree grand lar­ceny.

In 2013, Kwoka was or­dered by State Supreme Court Jus­tice John L. Michal­ski to re­pay $102,733 to Planned Par­ent­hood. She had stolen the money be­tween Au­gust 2012 and March 2013 by forg­ing checks to her­self and her hus­band.

Orig­i­nally, Michal­ski sen­tenced Kwoka to five years’ pro­ba­tion that be­gan with six months in jail, and that time will count to­ward her state prison sen­tence. Like Michal­ski be­fore her, Sheldon could have given Kwoka a sen­tence of as long as five to 15 years.

The pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion case was heard in Ni­a­gara County be­cause Kwoka is a Ni­a­gara County res­i­dent and her pro­ba­tion su­per­vi­sion was trans­ferred to Ni­a­gara, even though her felony was com­mit­ted in Erie County.

Ni­a­gara County As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Ryan K. Parisi said he will pre­pare a civil judg­ment or­der­ing Kwoka to com­plete resti­tu­tion af­ter her re­lease from prison. Parisi said he doesn’t know yet ex­actly how much Kwoka still owes, but the judg­ment will be a mat­ter of public record.

Kwoka had a history of steal­ing money be­fore she was ever hired by Planned Par­ent­hood, in­clud­ing three con­vic­tions for thefts. In May 2002, she was fired as a sec­re­tary from the City of Lockport Build­ing In­spec­tion Depart­ment for tak­ing $212 from the of­fice.

While she was free on bail await­ing her orig­i­nal sen­tenc­ing in 2013, Kwoka ad­mit­ted to steal­ing $520 from a friend’s bank ac­count so she could make a car pay­ment, Lockport po­lice said at the time.

Michal­ski had or­dered Kwoka to pay $647.78 a month to Planned Par­ent­hood and $208.33 per month to M&T Bank, on which the fraud­u­lent checks were drawn, to re­im­burse the bank for the $25,000 it paid Planned Par­ent­hood for fail­ing to catch some of the thefts.

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