SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Former Utica Mayor, Louis LaPolla was indicted on Sept. 22 on six counts of mail fraud after allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship donations.
The 78-year-old from Utica served as Utica Mayor from 1984 to 1995 and the President of the Utica City School Board from 2018 to 2022, following 21 years of service as a member of the board.
According to United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Alfred A. Watson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the indictment alleges that LaPolla set up a scholarship fund in honor of his late wife, Andrea LaPolla, after she passed away in 2018.
The alleged intent of the the scholarship fund was that it would benefit the Utica City School District students who planned to pursue post-secondary education in health-related fields.
The indictment further alleges that LaPolla received tens of thousands of dollars in donations intended for the scholarship fund from individuals and businesses which he spent on himself rather than depositing it into the scholarship fund.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the charges filed against LaPolla carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1.5 million, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
Following his arrest on these charges and initial appearance in federal court on Friday, Sept. 22, LaPolla was ordered released on conditions pending his trial.
The FBI is investigating the case with assistance from New York State Police and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry is prosecuting the case.