Today's Most...Horrible Santa: 'Santa Claus' for underprivileged - Tucson News Now

Today's Most...Horrible Santa: 'Santa Claus' for underprivileged kids admits stealing thousands

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -  TODAY'S MOST...Horrible Santa: A man who dressed up as Santa Claus for underprivileged children pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars.

70-year old Ronald Papaleoni admitted he stole the money from a government group and non-profit groups.

Papaleoni pleaded guilty in court in Cobb County, Georgia. He had been in charge of handling money for a local preservation authority, and wrote checks to himself from the authority. He also wrote checks to a non-profit group that he owned, and then used that money for personal use.

Papaleoni dressed up as Santa Claus during that non-profit's annual holiday shopping event for underprivileged kids.

Prosecutors believe Papaleoni stole as much as $150,000, and the judge in the case told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "this is not a first offender case. This was repetitive behavior. It was taking advantage of someone who gave you trust." 

Papaleoni was sentenced to 15 years probation. His attorney said his client hoped to earn money dressing up as Santa Claus as a way to pay restitution, but that he won't be able to do that because of a felony conviction.

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