John T. Daley says his judgment was impaired by Paxil. His ex-employer wishes he could have taken truth serum instead. Daley, former chief financial officer of the New York State Nurses Association, was charged by an Albany County, N.Y. court with embezzling more than $1.2 million from the union. Daley, 46, was fired from his job with the Albany-based organization, which represents about 34,000 nurses in New York and New Jersey, when an internal investigation discovered a typewriter ribbon used to make out checks held a history of his transactions. He had been arrested in June.
The internal probe was triggered by the discovery by a clerical employee of four missing checks. That number proved to be on the low side. Eventually, the union concluded that as many as 127 forged transactions took place over a four-year period. Daley, who made $130,000 a year, wasn’t in a position to plead poverty. So what was his motive? Daley’s lawyer, James E. Long, said his client’s judgment was impaired by over five years of use of the antidepressant drug Paxil, which supposedly had been wrongly prescribed. In a statement to police, Daley said he acted alone to handle financial problems that began in May 2003.
Prosecutors aren’t impressed with this defense. “This case spotlights the vulnerability of organizations to theft from within,” remarked Albany County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Baynes. “There is much concern over cybertheft and keeping networks protected from external threats, when often the greatest threat is from within.” Daley could receive a 25-year sentence in state prison. In the meantime, said his attorney, Daley and his wife have begun to liquidate assets to make restitution. Paxil or no Paxil, that may be the defendant’s smartest move thus far. (Albany Times Union, 11/22/06).