LAWRENCE — Former school superintendent and convicted embezzler Wilfredo Laboy apologized and accepted responsibility for his criminal actions yesterday. His wife and daughter also made impassioned pleas for leniency to Judge Richard Welch before he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, followed by a year of house arrest.
Laboy's daughter, Michelle Egipciaco, 40, described her father as "an exemplary human being that shouldn't be in this position."
Welch quickly stopped her short, saying Laboy "does deserve to be in this position" as a Salem Superior Court jury had found him guilty of five counts of fraud and embezzlement and illegal possession of alcohol on school property.
But a tearful Egipciaco continued, asking Welch "to see beyond this spectacle" and recognize her father's heart and soul. "His core is good and his life speaks for that." She said her father had never been in a courtroom before, at least not in the criminal defendant's chair.
"We need him ... We are asking for leniency and mercy," she said.
Laboy's wife of 42 years, Margarita, a retired Lowell school teacher, also said "my husband is a good man who loves people."
He came to Lawrence from New York "and gave himself to a community that needed a voice," she said. The last three years, while Laboy awaited trial, "were very upsetting to my family."
"At his age, we don't know how long we have together," said Margarita Laboy, sobbing.
Laboy, 61, also publicly apologized to the court. He said he respected the decisions of the jury, his "peers" who judged him in this case.
"I take complete and full responsibility for what happened," he said.
He added that he has nothing but respect for this country and the justice system.
"I made poor decisions, your honor, and I take full responsibility," Laboy said.
He also thanked Welch for being a fair judge and Maureen Wilson Leal, the prosecutor. He apologized to Leal for his demeanor on the stand if it ever implied arrogance or disrespect.
Two pastors also testified to Laboy's character and asked Welch for leniency.
Laboy faced up to 10 years in jail on the fraud and embezzlement charges. Welch sentenced him to two years, with 90 days to be served, followed by one year of house arrest, three years probation, 600 hours of community service and restitution to be determined at a later date.
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