- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) - A southeastern Massachusetts woman who won a $1 million lottery prize must pay over $100,000 in a criminal case against her after admitting she stole from her brother’s business while he battled cancer.

Maria Pereira, 55, pleaded guilty Friday in Brockton Superior Court to larceny, The Enterprise reported (https://bit.ly/1GsLnH1 ). As part of a plea deal, 15 other charges were dropped.

Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Russ Eonas said Pereira increased the amount she stole from her brother’s Brockton construction business after she found out he had cancer and after she collected $455,000 cash for her lottery win.

She was accused of stealing $1.6 million from Buginga’s company beginning in 2009, and using the money to buy motorcycles, custom closets and to go on vacations. During the hearing, she fidgeted with a ring on her finger and apologized when her cellphone buzzed loudly in court, the newspaper reported.

Her brother, Manuel Buginga, 38, said he discovered in 2012 she had been embezzling money from the business.

“She accelerated after she found out I was sick,” Buginga said.

Pereira was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and ordered to pay $103,757 restitution.

Judge Cornelius Moriarty said he only allowed the plea because Buginga accepted the terms. The case was scheduled to go to trial on Monday.

“I accepted the deal because I just want closure to this,” he said. “I want people to know that she’s guilty.”

Buginga said he has been cancer free since October 2012 after undergoing months of treatments. He also has rebuilt his company, he said.


Information from: The (Brockton, Mass.) Enterprise, https://www.enterprisenews.com

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