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'Pure greed' leads to prison.

Byline: Harry Hitzeman Legal Affairs Writer -CLMN-

Calling it a crime of "pure greed," a Kane County judge sentenced a Bartlett man to 4 1/2 years in prison Thursday for stealing more than $75,000 from a Geneva attorney while working as his personal assistant.

Franco Morrone, 39, was arrested in October 2017 on charges of felony identity theft and theft of over $10,000 but less than $100,000.

Authorities said Morrone used the lawyer's personal information to withdraw money from his bank account and open a credit card to buy jewelry, watches, hotel stays and other items for himself and his girlfriend at the time.

The attorney discovered the thefts and fired Morrone.

In March, Morrone entered a "cold" or "blind" plea, in which a defendant admits guilt without an agreed-upon punishment, to identity theft.

Morrone faced a sentence ranging from probation to up to 15 years in prison.

After a two-day hearing this week, Judge Clint Hull issued the prison sentence and ordered Morrone to pay $75,724.64 in restitution within five years of his release from prison.

"This sentence is based on the nature and circumstance of how this offense was committed," Hull said. "This didn't stop because you decided to stop."

Before his sentence, Morrone read a statement apologizing to the attorney and others for his "careless, stupid" actions and asked for probation so he could work, pay restitution and child support for his 4 1/2-year-old daughter and provide care for his ailing mother.

"I am unequivocally, 100 percent responsible for my actions," Morrone said, adding he's been in drug and alcohol treatment since October 2018.

"The sense of shame I feel is profound."

Defense attorney Ricardo Bird also argued for probation, saying Morrone was diagnosed in 2014 as bipolar with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.

Morrone can have his prison term cut in half for good behavior.

He also has a pending felony case out of Gurnee in which police say he was selling drugs out of a hotel in September 2018.

Morrone is charged with possession of 2,000 to 5,000 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of 50 to 100 grams of hydrocodone with intent to deliver and possession of 15 to 50 grams of amphetamine.

The most severe charge carries a top punishment of 15 years in prison.

He's due in Lake County court on July 12.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jun 21, 2019
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