Woman in Pennsylvania sentenced to five years for home arson
December 22, 2016, Pittsburg, PA — The former nanny of Pittsburgh Penguins player Chris Kunitz was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison for setting fire to her rental residence and then filing fraudulent insurance claims for the contents.
The public defender for Andrea Forsythe, 28, unsuccessfully sought a term running concurrently to one she’ll receive next month for thefts from the Penguins player and other people for whom she worked as a nanny.
She also was ordered to pay more than $179,000 restitution to the insurance companies that covered her losses in the June 23, 2014 fire in Sturgeon.
In the other cases, Forsythe was convicted of numerous crimes and will be sentenced Jan. 3 by a judge in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. Prosecutors say she stole $12,000 diamond earrings from Kunitz’s home in 2013 and sold them to jewelry stores. The earrings were a birthday present for Kunitz’s wife, Maureen.
The theft charges filed by police in Collier Township, where Kunitz lives with his wife and their children, grew out of the arson and insurance fraud investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into the Sturgeon fire.
Forsythe pleaded guilty in July to federal charges of malicious destruction of property by fire and wire fraud for burning the house, then filing fraudulent insurance claims for the contents, including some jewels she had allegedly stolen from another couple while also working as a nanny.
The other couple told investigators that an 18-karat gold diamond necklace worth about $4,400 and a gold diamond stud earring worth more than $10,000 had been stolen from them. Appraisals of those jewels were then used by Forsythe to make the fraudulent insurance claims, federal authorities contend.
As that investigation progressed, Forsythe eventually confessed to stealing the earrings from Maureen Kunitz. They were appraised at $11,900 when Kunitz bought them for his wife’s birthday sometime before she noticed them missing in September 2013.
Forsythe acknowledged stealing the diamond earrings from Maureen Kunitz’s bedroom while the couple wasn’t home, the Collier Township police complaint said. Forsythe then sold a loose diamond from one earring to a jewelry store for $2,542 and the other earring to a precious metals and jewelry store for $1,408.50.
Forsythe’s federal public defender, Jay Finkelstein, in court documents blamed the thefts on Forsythe’s allegedly abusive home life as a child. Finkelstein has a blanket policy of not commenting to the media.
U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon refused Finkelstein’s request to allow Forsythe’s federal sentence to run concurrently to whatever sentence she receives next month saying the theft victims “deserve their own justice, so to speak, and the court will not intervene here.”
However, the county judge could still order that sentence to run concurrent to the federal sentence. If that happens, Forsythe would get credit for serving both terms simultaneously, instead of serving them one after the other.
Forsythe’s public defender in the Allegheny County theft case didn’t immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.