Funeral thief arrested in New Canaan sentenced to three years in jail
Published 12:55 pm, Monday, February 22, 2010
Lifelong grifter Diane Seeley was just about through her guilty plea for stealing wallets during recent funerals in Stamford and New Canaan when she remembered her motor vehicle violations.
"This is an indication of the larcenous attempt ... disgraceful conduct," Comerford said, his voice rising in obvious anger.
Comerford said trying to include "forgotten" traffic tickets into Thursday's plea agreement at the last moment clearly showed the mindset of someone capable of such "despicable" and "shameful" crimes.
Her attorney, Howard Ehring, pointed out that Seeley really did forget the tickets because she made a note in pen on one of her hands. Ehring said Seeley was "totally ashamed" by her crimes.
Without including the tickets, Comerford then sentenced Seeley, 49, formerly of 55 Plattsville Ave., Norwalk, to three years in jail. Seeley pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree burglary.
According to Norwalk Bail Commissioner Daniel Melendez, Seeley has been convicted of 81 prior crimes stemming from 47 arrests. New Canaan police arrested Seeley in January for stealing wallets from the purses of two women attending wakes in New Canaan in September.
One wallet theft happened to a woman attending her aunt's wake at the Hoyt Funeral Home on Sept. 18. Her wallet contained $500, credit cards and house keys, Seeley's arrest warrant affidavit states.
The victim said she approached a woman, later identified as Seeley, at the wake because she did not know her. Seeley said she knew the aunt because they lived in the same complex, the affidavit said.
On Oct. 16, another woman told New Canaan police that her wallet, containing $75 in cash and various credit cards, had been stolen during a wake at Hoyt the night earlier, the affidavit said.
Hoyt director then warned funeral directors in Stamford and Darien of the thefts, the affidavit said.
An investigation into similar crimes in the lower Fairfield County area helped police identify Seeley, who also goes by the name Diane Ladestro, as a suspect, police said.
She was charged with two counts of third-degree burglary, fourth degree larceny and sixth degree larceny.
In exchange for being sentenced to three years in jail, all the charges but third-degree burglary were dropped by assistant State's Attorney David Applegate.
Seeley was also arrested in early December by Stamford police for stealing a woman's wallet during an October wake in Stamford and for taking credit cards from a woman's purse during a September Sunday Mass at St. Maurice Catholic Church in Glenbrook.