Mary Marra stole more than $500,000 from her former employer -- but it wasn't the worst of her crimes, a DuPage County judge said Monday.
"Of all the things she stole, the worst is the time with their mother she stole from her own children," Judge Daniel Guerin said.
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Guerin sentenced the former receptionist to 10 years in prison for siphoning the money from a Downers Grove law firm where she worked for about a decade.
The judge said he couldn't "in good conscience" grant probation to the 44-year-old mother of three, given her extensive criminal background and the financial hardship she caused Justin Tedrowe's law practice.
"If it (the firm) wasn't devastated, it must have been pretty close -- and so was Mr. Tedrowe," Guerin said.
Marra, formerly of Woodridge, faced up to 15 years after pleading guilty in June to three counts of felony theft. In a final plea to the judge Monday, she said she took responsibility for her crimes but was afraid of prison and worried her children would be humiliated and taunted if she were incarcerated.
Marra, who has seven prior felony convictions for theft and forgery, said she was in counseling and hoped to continue raising her children.
"Please don't send me to prison," she begged.
Marra stole about $100,000 a year by writing checks to herself from her employer's business and client accounts. The thefts came to light in early 2008 after one of the accounts was overdrawn.
Marra said she used most of the money on clothes, vacations, home improvement projects and private school for her children.
Outside of court, Tedrowe said he treated Marra like family and was shocked when he learned she betrayed his trust.
"I'm sorry for her family and sorry for her victims," he said, adding he believed her sentence was "fair."
Marra was visibly shaking as Guerin imposed the term, and tears streamed down her face when she was taken into custody.
She must serve at least five years before she's eligible for parole. Guerin agreed to keep her in the county jail until next week so she has time to meet with her children to break the news.