NEW YORK – A maid whose clients included Robert DeNiro and Candice Bergen was sentenced Tuesday to one to three years in prison by a judge who said the defendant was "cleaning out" her celebrity employers' valuables while cleaning their homes.
State Supreme Court Justice Renee White ignored the pleas of a weeping Lucyna Turyk-Wawrynowicz to let her return immediately to Poland.
Turyk-Wawrynowicz pleaded guilty two weeks ago to grand larceny, forgery and identity theft.
"I would like the judge to allow me to go home," Turyk-Wawrynowicz, 35, said through tears and a Polish interpreter. She said her sister died recently, leaving several young children. "They have no one to take care of them," she told the judge.
White told the maid she had "shown no remorse for your actions, but only remorse for your predicament," and imposed the prison sentence.
"During your work as a housekeeper, a job that involves trust, you violated the trust of five individuals by stealing significant property from these individuals," the judge said. "You worked not just by cleaning and dusting, but by cleaning out the property of the various employers you worked for."
White added that Turyk-Wawrynowicz had received a generous plea deal, probably because prosecutors know immigration officials will deport her when her sentence expires.
Turyk-Wawrynowicz' lawyer, Mark T. Zawisny, said his client agreed to leave the country voluntarily so that she will be sent home and not held in an immigration jail.
When she pleaded guilty to grand larceny on Feb. 8, Turyk-Wawrynowicz admitted stealing a pair of diamond earrings from DeNiro's wife, Grace Hightower. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Anne Schwartz said the earrings were worth $95,500.
Detective Richard Kenney, lead investigator on the case, said the maid also stole Hightower's shoes and Bergen's leather jacket and cameras.
In pleading guilty to forgery, Turyk-Wawrynowicz admitted that she used a stolen credit card to buy items at Barney's, the luxury clothing store on Madison Avenue, and fraudulently signed the name of the true owner of the card.
The maid also admitted staling the identity of a now-13-year-old girl. Schwartz said the defendant used the girl's Social Security number to get residency and work papers, which she could not have gotten as an illegal alien.
"You used the Social Security number of a child to get work," the judge said. "You violated the rights of a child in order to put yourself above others, I presume, for purposes of greed."
The judge said she wanted Turyk-Wawrynowicz to do prison time "so that you get an idea of the punishment that is involved when you violate the laws of this country."
Turyk-Wawrynowicz, who lived in Queens with her husband, has been jailed for all but a couple of weeks since her arrest in June 2005.
Her attorney said that means that if the housekeeper serves the minimum — one year — with time off for good behavior, she should be out in four to six months.