Former Utica Mayor Admits To Mail Fraud For Stealing From Wife’s Memorial Scholarship Fund

Louis LaPolla, the former mayor of Utica, New York, pled guilty in federal court on Friday to mail fraud charges for soliciting and stealing nearly $40,000 in donations intended for a scholarship fund honoring his late wife Andrea. The fund was set up to benefit Utica City School District students planning to pursue post-secondary education in health-related fields.

LaPolla, 78, who served as Utica’s mayor from 1984 to 1995 and as school board president from 2018 to 2022, admitted to spending almost all of the donated funds on himself. He also pled guilty in February to a misdemeanor petit larceny charge for using school district supplies to send out fundraising invitations for the scholarship dinner.

For the petit larceny charge, LaPolla was sentenced in April to 60 days of house arrest, three years of probation and ordered to pay $3,100 in restitution. He faces up to 20 years in prison, a $1.5 million fine and up to three years of supervised release for the mail fraud charges, with sentencing scheduled for September 10.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of New York announced the guilty plea, noting that LaPolla had been Utica’s longest-serving mayor and praising his economic achievements and accessibility in a 2019 special report. The former mayor’s admitted theft from his late wife’s memorial fund has tarnished his legacy.