OSWEGO – The Minetto man convicted of stealing more than $200,000 from a local elderly Air Force veteran appealed Honorable Judge Walter Hafner’s sentencing of 6 1/3 to 19 years in prison Wednesday (Oct 28.)
The defendant, David Tetro Jr. and his attorney, Sal Lanza, appealed the decision by Judge Hafner while Tetro adamantly maintained his innocence as well as his co-defendant and wife, Morgan Tetro’s innocence. She was sentenced the week prior.
Morgan Tetro was sentenced by Judge Hafner last week to 7 1/3 – 23 years in prison as well as ordered restitution of over $200,000 on multiple counts including grand larceny, welfare fraud, tax fraud and offering a false instrument for filing, all felony charges.
The pair was convicted of their charges in September after an investigation started by Department of Social Services when David Tetro applied for Medicaid benefits and the income he listed didn’t match his expenditures.
According to trial testimonies, before the Medicaid application was applied the Tetros had befriended 84-year-old Air Force veteran, Irene Dennison, and spent years gaining her trust to convince her to give them full control of her financial assets, including Power of Attorney for nearly three years at which time all of Dennison’s assets were dissipated.
David Tetro Jr. was sentenced on counts of grand larceny in the first degree, welfare fraud in the third degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, all felony charges.
Assistant State Attorney General, Benjamin Clark on behalf of the People of New York State asked Judge Hafner to impose the maximum sentence on David Tetro Jr.
Clark explained again for the judge how Tetro and his wife had sought out the retired veteran and spent years gaining her trust and generosity only to convince her to sign over Power of Attorney and then liquidated all of her assets including spending her money on personal expenses such as more than $140,000 of gambling losses at Turning Stone Casino and selling at least 12 of her properties from Florida, Maryland and New York.
Clark claims that David Tetros greed left the victim nearly penniless and yet still he shows no remorse for his actions.
“For these reasons, the absolute gravity of this case, this defendant should absolutely receive the maximum sentence,” said Clark.
David Tetro’s attorney approached the judge with a different viewpoint; emphasizing that Dennison never once viewed herself as a victim to the Tetros, instead just as they were, her caretakers.
“My belief in my client’s innocence is unwavering today,” he started.
He continued to explain that throughout investigation and trial, Dennison “never once said anything was stolen from her by David Tetro.”
Adding that she was not the accuser and that she had even referred to the Tetros at one point, saying they were “like my children, we were the best of friends.”
Defense claims court decisions were not based on Dennison’s testimony but instead based only on investigations by the State Police and Department of Social Services making their own claims to wrongdoing.
Tetro spoke to Judge Hafner at which time he adamantly maintained his innocence as well as his wife’s innocence and expressed that he did nothing more than love and care for Dennison.
“Now our lives are ruined, for what? Irene never complained to anyone,” Tetro said, further backing the defense that Dennison did not feel as though she were a victim.
Judge Hafner ended the sentencing by imposing a 6 1/3 to 19 year prison sentence on David Tetro Jr.
Also, ordering him to pay two orders of restitution (with a 5% surcharge) totaling $247,993 and also ordering an Order of Protection for Dennison against David Tetro to be in place until 2025.
Lanza handed out copies of notice of appeals before the sentencing closed.