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U.S. v. CONNOR

May 3, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -against- DENISE O' CONNOR, Defendant


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

SENTENCING OPINION

Defendant Denise O'Connor ("O'Connor") pled guilty on February 5, 2004 to one count of Mail Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and one count of Theft of Government Funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641. From approximately May 2003 through approximately August 2003, O'Connor engaged in a scheme to defraud the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (the "LMDC") and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") of grant money by making false representations in a grant application that she was renting and residing in an apartment on Catherine Street in Manhattan on or before September 11, 2001 and that she intended to reside at that address for two years commencing June 1, 2002. As a result, the LMDC mailed checks totaling $2,228.50 to O'Connor, constituting grant money from HUD to which she knew she was not entitled. O'Connor will be sentenced to time served to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in New York County Supreme Court (Ind. 4561-2003), to be followed by three years of supervised release. Restitution in the amount of $2,228.50 is ordered, and a special assessment fee of $200 is mandatory.

Background

  This statement of facts draws on the Presentence Investigation Report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

 The Defendant

  O' Connor was born in New York, New York on October 26, 1960, and is one of five children born to the union of John and Theresa O'Connor. O'Connor reported that she was raised in middle-class conditions in Manhattan and described her childhood and upbringing as "beautiful." She also reported that her mother died in 1998 after suffering from emphysema and her father died in 2002 after a battle with cancer.

  O'Connor reported that she graduated from the Saint Alphonse School in lower Manhattan in 1978, and that after high school she completed a training program in the care and transport of disabled persons.

  O'Connor advised that she has been married once and has no children. She married Gerard Hepsen in Arizona approximately four years ago. She believes her husband to be dead but is not sure.

  In or about 1992, according to O'Connor, she was struck by a car and suffered debilitating injuries to her back and head which resulted in her being hospitalized for approximately one month. She advised that, presently, she is unable to sit or stand for long periods of time, and she has been unable to work since her accident. The accident reportedly occurred while O'Connor was working for the Jolo Bus Company as an escort for disabled individuals, a company for which she had worked since approximately 1979.

  O'Connor stated that after the death of her mother in 1998 she began suffering from anxiety and hyperactivity. She further stated that, as a result of one of her prior convictions, she was ordered to undergo weekly mental health treatment. She also advised that she takes an anti-anxiety medication, which she says makes her feel calmer. She added that she feels the counseling and medication are helpful.

  O'Connor also reportedly takes glucose medication daily. According to a presentence report prepared in 2003 by the New York City Department of Probation, O'Connor had been using heroin for about one year and had also been participating in a methadone program. O'Connor reported no significant assets or liabilities, and a credit check revealed no open credit accounts and two collection accounts totaling $330. She reported that as a result of her injuries in 1992, she has been sustained by workmen's compensation benefits in the amount of $80 per week, as well as by her family.

  O'Connor has three prior convictions. In 1998 O'Connor was arrested and subsequently convicted of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree. According to the presentence report prepared for that offense, O'Connor was arrested after she sold a quantity of methadone to an undercover officer in exchange for $30. On July 29, 1998, O'Connor was sentenced to three years' probation for the offense, and she was discharged from probation supervision on April 20, 2001.

  In September of 2000, O'Connor was arrested and later convicted of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree. According to the presentence report prepared for the offense, O'Connor was observed by a firefighter setting a shirt on fire with matches and placing it inside a vehicle. After the firefighter extinguished the shirt, O'Connor reportedly grabbed the shirt, set it on fire again, and placed it in a dumpster. On March 15, 2001, O'Connor was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and five years' probation, but she was discharged from supervision on December 9, 2003 as a result of a third arrest and conviction in 2003. In August 2003, O'Connor was arrested and subsequently convicted of Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree, an offense for which she was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on November 26, 2003. According to the presentence report for that offense, on August 5, 2003, O'Connor and an unapprehended man were observed walking out of an apartment, the owner of ...


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