Kelly Mattern, office assistant/legal secretary for attorney Frank Santomauro, continued to forge checks in his name even after the lawyer discovered the theft in 2017, and tried to work with her on restitution, Lackawanna County Detective Lisa Bauer wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Mattern, 38, 820 Hilltop Drive 1, Clarks Summit, surrendered Thursday at the county courthouse and was released on $50,000 unsecured bail after arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Alyce Farrell.
Mattern is charged with forging Santomauro’s signature and cashing checks she made payable to herself in amounts ranging from $200 to $2,500 from both his business account and his lawyer trust account beginning in October 2015.
Santomauro, who reported the theft to the district attorney’s office in late June, said Mattern was like family to him and he treated her as such, Bauer wrote in the affidavit.
The attorney initially discovered the theft and confronted Mattern late last year, at which point she had written and cashed more than 170 checks totaling almost $148,000 on his business account, according to the affidavit.
Santomauro told Bauer he did not terminate her, reasoning he would never collect restitution if she was fired, the affidavit said. Instead, Mattern’s mother repaid $50,000, and the attorney withheld $16,017 from Mattern’s pay toward restitution. In addition, Mattern paid a $484 bill for him, and her boyfriend put a new roof valued at $2,500 on a building he owned.
As he collected restitution from her, Santomauro learned in March that Mattern had resumed forging checks on the business account in January, but again did not fire her, saying he kept her employed so he could continue to collect restitution payments, the affidavit said.
The attorney finally contacted authorities June 27, shortly after discovering Mattern had forged seven checks for $7,395 in May and June on his lawyer trust account, the affidavit said.
A review of records from the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Twp. found Mattern used her Player’s Club Card at the casino on more than 200 days between November 2016 and last month, Bauer wrote in the affidavit. Sixty of the forged checks were cashed on days Mattern used her card at the casino, and many others were cashed within a day or two of those dates.
Mattern is charged with three counts of forgery and two counts each of theft by unlawful taking and access device fraud — all felonies. She also faces two misdemeanor counts of bad checks after checks she wrote to Santomauro for restitution were returned for insufficient funds, the affidavit said.
Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 8.
In 2014, Mattern was sentenced to three to 23 months in Lackawanna County Prison for theft by deception after Clarks Summit police say she forged 26 checks totaling $37,600 on a 71-year-old man’s bank account.
At her sentencing hearing, Mattern told Judge Vito Geroulo she had been taking a lot of pills and used the money to gamble because she was depressed. As part of her sentence, the judge ordered her to make full restitution and to sign a voluntary ban from all casinos.
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Scranton legal secretary charged with forging checks for $175,950