Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Hazelwood Dispatcher Raised Cash for a Paralyzed Officer. Now She Admits She Gambled Away Thousands

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Hazelwood Dispatcher Raised Cash for a Paralyzed Officer. Now She Admits She Gambled Away Thousands

Article excerpt

CLAYTON - A judge will decide the fate of a former Hazelwood dispatcher who helped organize fundraisers for a police officer who was paralyzed in the line of duty and gambled it away.

On Monday, April Briscuso entered a blind plea to one count of felony stealing, which means a judge will determine her sentence without a recommendation from prosecutors.

As first reported by the Post-Dispatch, Briscuso, 40, was arrested in November amid an investigation into whether she pocketed some of the money she helped raise for former Officer Craig Tudor. He was paralyzed from the chest down in an on-duty car crash in August 2016 while he was on his way to a call.

Briscuso is scheduled to appear before Judge Michael Jamison at 9 a.m. July 16 at the St. Louis County courthouse. Jamison requested a Sentence Assessment Report from the Probation and Parole Division, which is standard practice, said Ed Magee, spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

St. Louis County police say between June and September, Briscuso organized several fundraisers for Tudor. The 11-year dispatching veteran told investigators she took at least $9,500 in donations meant for the injured officer and went to casinos to gamble.

Tudor and his wife, Christine, told investigators they had not received the proceeds from several events hosted in their name, with the exception of checks made directly payable to officer Tudor or his wife, according to court documents.

Investigators concluded that Briscuso told donors to make checks payable to her even after the Tudors told her to stop doing so. She told Christine Tudor that she had been depositing donations into her personal account, according to the documents.

Prosecutors had sought a suspended seven-year sentence, 30 days of shock time behind bars and five years of probation, along with restitution and a ban from gambling.

Craig and Christine Tudor issued a statement Tuesday reacting to the news that Briscuso opted for a blind plea.

"We can only assume that April's decision to submit a blind plea was a gamble on her part; that she may potentially receive a lighter sentence than the one recommended by the Prosecuting Attorney," the statement said. …

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