Embezzler spared prison term

Nov. 21, 2006 at 7:23 PM

TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A Florida man who admitted embezzling $1.8 million from his employer but said that Paxil made him do it has been sentenced to 12 months home confinement.

Patrick Henry Stewart will even keep his new job, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

"Since he was hired in April 2006 as controller, Pat has become a very valuable employee of Kitchens Direct," Tony Zanoni, owner of the Sarasota company, wrote the court. "I would like you to know that if Pat is not sentenced to prison, he will still have his job."

Stewart pleaded guilty, admitting that while he was employed at Jabil Circuit he cut 179 checks made out either to himself or to his creditors. But at sentencing, his lawyer argued that Stewart was not completely responsible for his acts because he was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Studies have shown that Paxil can trigger bizarre behavior in people with bipolar disease.

U.S. District Court Judge James Moody Jr. said he found the psychiatric testimony convincing.

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