A veteran Philadelphia court procurement worker was sentenced to 33 months in prison today by a federal judge on his guilty plea to stealing $433,000 in court funds over a 10-year-period.
"I could give you an excuse but I don't have one," William Rullo told U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell. "I want to use the term addiction but it just caught up with me. I kept saying this is the last time. But it wasn't."
Dalzell said he believed that Rullo was remorseful for what he did but added that he had to impose the minimum prison term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines.
"You not only committed a violation of the public trust . . . but it was a court that, as you well know, is dedicated to justice," Dalzell said.
The judge cited the "corrosive" nature of public corruption and said he had to deter others who worked in the justice system from following Rullo's path.
Dalzell let Rullo surrender Jan. 15 to a prison to be designated. When released, Rullo will be on three years supervised release and will begin repaying the city courts the $433,000 he stole.
Rullo, 47, of Levittown, pleaded guilty to a count of mail fraud involving a scheme that ran from 1999 to 2010 when the theft was discovered and he was fired.
Rullo had then worked for the city's First Judicial District - the formal name for the city court system - since 1988. As a $60,184-a-year procurement technician, he ordered products and services for the courts and ultimately was given a court-system credit card in his name.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney William Inden, Rullo began the fraud buying monthly service for eight mobile phones used by his family and friends.
In 2005, Inden said, Rullo was buying city parking passes for city judges and court officials and also spent $35,000 for parking passes that he resold to friends and coworkers. He also bought $1,300 to $1,450 worth of SEPTA tokens that he then used or sold at half-price to coworkers.
Inden said the remainder of the money was spent in "personal splurges" - weekends away at resorts and 36 plasma and LCD televisions.
Defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle urged Dalzell to sentence Rullo below the recommended sentence. McMonagle cited Rullo's decision to cooperate and confess as soon as he was caught.
"He did not blame others," McMonagle said. "He fell down and then did what a good citizen does: he tried to get back up."
Inden, however, said Rullo deserved to be sentenced within the 33- to 41-month guideline range. Inden noted that Rullo's scheme was long-lived and that he went so far as to forge several judges' signatures on some documents to justify the personal purchases.