TV Notes'Law & Order' actress Tamara Tunie watches as former manager Joseph Cilibrasi is sentenced to prison
By Barbara Ross, New York Daily News
- Jan. 10, 2012
Law & Order actress Tamara Tunie told a tale of betrayal worthy of TV episode as her former business manager was sentenced to prison Tuesday for ripping her off.
Tunie, who played the medical examiner on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, lambasted Joseph Cilibrasi, 51, as a "malicious, cruel, diabolical, vicious" man who pretended to be her friend while robbing her blind for two decades.
She said he shared her family's birthdays, weddings, divorces, births and holidays "all to create a false sense of security" so he could steal her "life's work," more than $1.4 million.
Actors are like professional athletes, Tunie told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Kirke Bartley: They earn a lot early in their careers and need to save money to assure a comfortable future.
She said that is particularly true for African-American actresses like herself who find that as they get older, roles are "few and far between."
Tunie, 52, said her peak earning years were from 2000 to 2009 when she played Dr. Melinda Warner on Law & Order and a litigator on As The World Turns.
"I cannot hope to replace what was stolen," she said in her victim impact statement. Now, she said, she might have to sell the 100-year-old home that she and her husband, jazz vocalist Gregory Generet, restored.
Prosecutor Peirce Moser said Cilibrasi preyed on busy people in the entertainment industry, pretending to be their pal as well as their business manager while "he bilked them for every dime he could."
Prosecutors said Cilibrasi tricked Tunie into opening a business bank account and wrote checks to himself and for cash starting in the 1990s. He used the money for business expenses, vacations and investment in projects like Legally Blonde: The Musical.
Moser said that Cilibrasi, who pretended to be a certified public accountant, stole outright from clients and from the government, pretending to pay taxes for clients but pocketing the money.
Another of his victim's was Michael Stern, the Kansas City Symphony conductor who is a son of famed violinist Isaac Stern, who lost $75,000. He told the judge in a letter he confronted Cilibrasi in the spring of 2010 and the defendant assaulted him.
Cilibrasi, who had pleaded guilty to grand larceny, was sentenced to two and half to seven years behind bars in a plea-bargain agreement. He had no comment before he was led off to prison.
Cilibrasi has a prior criminal record from 2004 for stealing from another client.http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/...icle-1.1004052