Former Diocese Employee Sentenced

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SCRANTON -- A former employee with the Diocese of Scranton who admits stealing $340,000 went before a judge Wednesday to be punished.

She was sentenced to nine to 23 months in jail for using a charitable bank account as her own while she worked for the diocese.

Sharon Warunek worked for the Diocese of Scranton for 27 years before she was suspended amidst the allegations of theft.

She pleaded guilty in January.

Warunek was sent to prison for using a diocese credit card as her own but before she went, she made another hefty payment back to the diocese.

Before Warunek headed to the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton for sentencing, she wrote out a $100,000 check to her former employer.

That check helped chip away at the $340,000 she admitted to stealing from the diocese mission fund.

A judge sentenced Warunek to nine to 23 months in jail. In court, Warunek told the judge she started taking money from the diocese when her son was hurt on the job and needed help.

The judge said her charity for her son shouldn't have come from the diocese's charitable fund.

Judge Geroulo said "Robin Hood is still a bandit, and it's still wrong."

Warunek admitted to stealing most of the money using a credit card given to her by the Diocese of Scranton Pontifical Mission Office.

In court Warunek said, "I loved the missions. I loved working for them. What happened, happened and I don't really know how. And I'm sorry for it."

"To put any blame on the diocese or the baptismal mission, I think is unfair," said Warunek's attorney Bill Peters.

Peters says she has paid $200,000 back to the diocese so far and intends to eventually pay back the $340,000 in full.

"That came through personal finances, refinances by her kids, money that her husband had, refinances on her own house.  And they have just tried to scramble to get every dollar they can back to pay off what they can," said Peters.

Warunek started serving her nine to 23 month sentence immediately. She was also ordered by the judge to pay back the rest of the money the diocese is owed.

Prosecutors said in court they have evidence that Warunek stole an additional $80,000 that they couldn't charge her with because of the statute of limitations.

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