A retired Buffalo school teacher was sentenced Wednesday to weekends in jail for two months followed by five years’ probation for stealing $25,789 from a friend who entrusted him to handle his finances while he underwent medical treatment for severe anxiety over his efforts to provide for his disabled son.
Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk sentenced Geary H. Murray, 56, of Michael Road, Orchard Park, who last year had pleaded guilty as charged to third-degree grand larceny.
Murray, who recently retired after 30 years as a teacher for the Buffalo Public Schools, made 144 unauthorized ATM withdrawals from the victim’s bank account between July 2011 and August 2012, according to prosecutors.
While Murray has made full restitution to the victim, the judge noted that he still owes $1,980 in interest on the debt, dating to June 2013, when he pleaded guilty. He ordered him to pay that amount by Sept. 30.
The victim was in the courtroom but did not speak.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Jurusik told the judge that the victim wants Murray incarcerated and held accountable for abusing his friendship and trust while he was undergoing treatment at Buffalo Psychiatric Center.
The prosecutor said Murray spent the money on gambling, bill-paying and personal expenses.
Murray expressed his sincere apologies to the victim, saying the case was difficult for both of them.
The defendant told the judge he has done good things during his teaching career and had won awards, “but this is what I will be remembered for.”
The judge called it a puzzling case, noting that Murray had no previous brushes with the criminal-justice system.
“You had a good-paying job,” he told Murray. “I don’t understand why you stole from him.”
“You ripped off a friend, apparently out of greed,” he added.
The judge said he was glad that Murray had made restitution. “But when you steal from a friend, you take more than money,” he told him.