Thursday, November 1, 2012

Embezzler steals more than money

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Ed Mancini, the 92-year-old Harrison Township man who was conned out of his life savings of more than $400,000 by Brian Marsack, who also stole similar amounts from Mancini’s sister, Florence, and sister-in-law (wife’s sister), Virginia.
Marsack, 44, pilfered $1.4 million from the trio and pleaded no contest.
It’s hard not to feel anger for Marsack, no matter his excuse, whether it was due to extreme losses from day-trading, as he claims, or something more sinister like a Ponzi scheme or something else.
Because Marsack, a husband and father of four, portrayed himself as a Christian family man. He and his wife often were the picture of perfection in their upscale Chesterfield Township neighborhood. They would be seen holding hands and pulling a wagon carrying kids as they walked down the sidewalk in the subdivision.
“You never would have thought” he could commit such an act, a neighbor said.
He took advantage of a vulnerable, and it turns out, sick old woman. Much of the scamming was done by Marsack through Mancini’s now-deceased wife, who he learned that had been sick with leukemia but didn’t know it until two days before she died at 79 in September 2011. Maybe that affected her judgment.
Fortunately, authorities were able to recover $101,000 that is to be dispersed to the victims.
But still that’s a mere pittance because the damage is extreme. Although he lives independently, Mancini could have used the money for his care if he becomes dependent. He also would have been able to help his daughter, who is afflicted with multiple scelorsis, as well as a grandson who has leukemia.
His sister and sister-in-law are not so lucky and require care. But now they can’t afford it. His sister-in-law pays $4,500 per month to reside in assisted living and may not be able to pay it much longer. Her share of the recovered money will pay for only six months.
As Mancini’s daughter, Sandra Boone, said, her father lost the ability to help his family, not an easy thing for a proud man who worked 37 years in management at Uniroyal,  a lot of the time spent at the now-razed plant on East Jefferson in Detroit. Growing up in the Depression, Mancini scrimped and saved his money. He would have felt good to help family members.
Marsack’s scam also caused a lot of stress for the victims and Boone as they had to gather materials for police and attend court hearings.
The betrayal had to cut deep as Mancini has known Marsack since he was a boy and his large family rented a home from Mancini on 23 Mile Road in Chesterfield. Marsack made it a point to stay friends with Mancini, often visiting the man he called “grandpa” at his driving range that he operates on the 23 Mile Road property, a business that generates a minimal profit.
Premeditated? It appears that way.
But in the face of the ordeal, Mancini has showed strong character. He has spoken out about the case and at Marsack’s sentencing on Tuesday, he delivered an impressive 15-minute statement in court. He broke down most when talking about his daughter with MS.
Macomb Circuit Judge Antonio Viviano was even so impressed with him that after the sentencing, he called over Mancini and Sandra to the bench to compliment him.
Viviano, for his part, minutes earlier gave a nice lecture from the bench about staying positive in the light of bad events that happen in everyone’s life. Focus on the good things, he offered.
Meanwhile, Marsack said nothing. I wanted to give him a tiny bit of credit for at least appearing contrite and listening to Mancini. But Sandra advised me that was his “MO” -- to offer sincere, deferential demeanor that in this case appeared to put his prey at ease. Marsack meekly declined comment and was escorted out of the courtroom without offering an apology, an explanation, a beg for forgiveness. Nothing.
The only good thing about the case is that at least Mancini won’t have to worry about him for at least the next 45 months Marsack spends in prison.


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