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Former Philadelphia Archdiocese CFO Gets Prison Term For Embezzlement

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The former chief financial officer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been sentenced for stealing nearly $1 million from the church.

Just before sentencing, 43-year-old Anita Guzzardi said she asked God to forgive her.  Through her tears, she apologized to the archdiocese, her family, and friends.

An addictions counselor testified that Guzzardi suffered from major depression and was a pathological gambler.

Defense lawyer Louis Busico says his client succumbed to gambling and shopping addictions just like her mother and father, and felt betrayed by the church over the clergy abuse scandal.

"She was a woman predisposed to addictive behavior," Busico says.  "She's a woman who genetically had gambling in her veins, if you will.  And the pressure of her job, coupled with what appeared to be the hypocricy of those that she was working for, that was a triggering event."

Philadelphia assistant district attorney Lisa Caulfield found that explanation preposterous.

"Get out of there," Caulfied suggested as an alternative action that Guzzardi might have taken.  "Don't stay there seven more years and collect a supplemental paycheck by stealing from them."

Guzzardi had worked at the Roman Catholic archdiocese since she was 20, and was making $124,000 a year as chief financial officer when she was fired last year.

They say the money also went to pay down a mortgage on a $425,000 house in Haddon Heights, NJ.

So far, the defendant has paid $260,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors argued for 5½ to 11 years in prison; the defense sought house arrest.   Judge Ellen Ceisler then sentenced Guzzardi to 2-7 years in prison.

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