WHITE PLAINS, Ny. — A man who cashed his dead father's retirement checks for nearly 30 years and pocketed roughly half a million dollars has been sentenced to a year of home confinement, followed by two years probation.
Peter Spino, 78, of Briarcliff Manor never told the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board to stop sending retirement payments to his father, who died in 1983, according to federal court records. As a result, the RRB sent a total of $468,64.02 to his father's bank account, from which Spino made regular withdrawals.
Spino, who pleaded guilty in March to a felony count of theft of government funds, was sentenced Aug. 12 in federal court in White Plains by U.S. District Judge Nelson Roman. The judge ordered Spino pay a $45,000 fine on top of full restitution, which he already paid.
Spino's lawyer, Daniel Seymour, had asked for a lenient sentence, court records show, noting his client was in poor health and had a traumatic life, amputating three fingers in a work accident in 1973 and being severely burned in a home explosion seven years later. Spino has a prior state conviction in 1984 for second-degree insurance fraud and was sentenced to five years probation in that case.
Seymour could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
The federal probe began in June 2012, when the RRB sent a letter to Spino's father, Carmen Spino, and asked him to contact the agency. Peter Spino responded with a phone call a month later, telling an RRB employee his father was in Europe and "lives part of the time in Italy and part of the time in North Africa," according to an investigator's affidavit filed in the case.
He claimed he didn't have an address or phone number for him. Spino told another employee he heard from his father "every now and again," but his father "had been sick and may be deceased."
When the RRB told him they would suspend payments until hearing from his father, Spino objected, saying he would like the board to wait a couple weeks while he attempted to contact him.
Confronted by federal agents in September 2012, he told them he had been sending money by Western Union to his father in Europe, but he recanted his story a month later, admitting his father had died.
He was arrested last August.