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A judge today sentenced a Grand Island woman to weekends in jail and five years’ probation for embezzling $18,521 from a trust fund established for her developmentally disabled daughter.

Sheri Cooney, 51, of Revere Road, apologized and told the judge she will pay back the money.

Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk sentenced Cooney to weekends in jail for four months starting next Friday.

Cooney told the judge she visits her daughter in a group home on weekends.

If she misses a visit, her daughter lashes out at the staff and calls for her, Cooney said.

Franczyk said the sentence could be served any three days of the week, not just Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.

He said he fashioned the punishment so she could continue working and earn money to pay restitution.

Cooney pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny for taking the money from September 2008 to November 2011 to pay for groceries, her mortgage and other expenses.

Franczyk questioned her other expenditures, including gifts she bought for her 28-year-old daughter to give to her other children.

“This is not just a theft from a candy store,” he said.

She took from a trust established for her daughter, he said.

The judge called it a sad case, noting the daughter was born with birth defects as a result of Cooney’s exposure to chemicals at her former job.

The trust was established with a $49,000 settlement Cooney received after suing her former employer.

Assistant District Attorney Gary M. Ertel said Cooney is scheduled to make monthly payments of $308.68 for five years.

Defense attorney Robert N. Convissar said his client would start serving her jail sentence on weekends and see how it works.

Cooney had faced a maximum prison term of 2-1/3 to 7 years.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com