A sobbing lottery addict convicted of stealing $2.3 million from her employer to fund her habit screamed at the judge that prison won't cure her.
"Tell me how you're helping me!" Annie Donnelly of Farmingville yelled at state Supreme Court Justice Robert Doyle during her sentencing Tuesday.
Donnelly pleaded guilty last month to second-degree grand larceny in exchange for the sentence of four to 12 years in prison.
The former bookkeeper for a doctors' office admitted she stole the money. Prosecutors said she spent as much as $6,000 a day playing Lotto and scratch-off games.
"So put me upstate. But you know what? When I come out, I'm still going to have a problem," Donnelly shouted at Doyle. She continued her courtroom tirade for several minutes, threatening to kill herself if she was sent to prison — even as her mother begged "Please stop it."
The Suffolk County sheriff's department said the defendant had been placed on suicide watch at the Riverhead jail.
Prosecutors said that between June 2002 and November 2005, the former bookkeeper wrote company checks for cash, petty cash, or checks payable to herself and then falsely listed them as payments to vendors associated with the Great South Bay Surgical Associates in Babylon.
The average check was for less than $3,000 and Donnelly wrote them in oddly numbered amounts instead of round numbers to avoid being caught, prosecutors said. She also would "move money around" within the business ledgers.
The theft was discovered when a bank called one of the physicians to say his checks were bouncing. In the first year Donnelly stole $41,261 from the office. Each year, the thefts increased, with Donnelly stealing $1,381,927 in 2005.
Investigators believe Donnelly may have won some jackpots of $5,000 or even $25,000, but it was never enough to cover the amount she had stolen overall.
Donnelly told the judge Wednesday she knew what she did was wrong and that she had seen a psychiatrist.
"Give me four to 12, give me 25" years in prison, she said. "It's not going to do anything."