Animal shelter VP steals $19K to buy diamonds for girlfriend

An official of an Allegheny County animal shelter is headed to jail for stealing $19,000 from the nonprofit and using it to buy diamond earrings, chocolate-covered strawberries, and other items for his girlfriend.

A Superior Court panel this week upheld the conviction against Franklin J. Sabolcik, a vice president of the White Oak Animal Shelter.  He was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in prison on charges of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, PennLive reported

President Judge Susan Peikes Gantman rejected Sabolcik's argument that a mistrial should have been declared when his case went to a jury in 2015.

Sabolcik argued for the mistrial after a private investigator made a statement under cross-examination that he was in prison for a DUI conviction at the time of the trial, the story reported.

The thefts came to light in January 2014 after Ina Jean Marton, founder of the no-kill shelter, reported financial irregularities and found a second, unauthorized bank account for the shelter that was accessible only to Sabolcik.

Sabolcik, 36, used the money to purchase tickets to an arena football game, a motocross show and a ski resort, and for meals at restaurants and bars, prosecutors said. In addition, he bought his girlfriend — who was a shelter volunteer — ski equipment and window blinds for her house and helped to repair her car. He also used shelter cash to purchase health insurance, which the organization didn't provide, the story reported.