Ithaca, N.Y. — Prosecutors requested a stiffer sentence for the Freeville woman who stole more than $365,000 than the one the judge ordered, District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said in an interview.

Christie Talbot, 38, pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny charges, a felony. She admitted to stealing the money from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology over several years while working for a Cornell professor.

Talbot faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. She was ultimately given 90 days in jail.

Read the in-depth story: Woman working for Cornell prof. steals more than $365K from psychology society

The DA said that the plea deal reached between the prosecution and defense in the case set recommended sentencing times. But the ultimate decision for Talbot’s sentence lay with the judge, she said.

“We didn’t think the sentence was long enough,” Wilkinson said. She didn’t say how much jail time prosecutors requested.

Wilkinson said she didn’t think the sentence would have been greater had prosecutors pursued a criminal trial instead of settling.

Unlike violent cases where more evidence at trial can show the impact of defendants’ crimes, the victim’s losses here were clearly apparent without a trial, Wilkinson said.

In an interview with The Voice, a former executive officer of SPSP said its board members wanted a tougher sentence.

​“This wasn’t a one-time decision, a moment of weakness,” said John Dovidio of the series of thefts. “It was done a hundred times over a long period of time. We felt the punishment should reflect that.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.