Mississippi Second Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced 54-year old Melinda Rosetti-Spence to 20 years in prison Monday morning at the Harrison County Courthouse in Gulfport, according to the District Attorney Joel Smith. The defendant previously pled guilty to Embezzlement on April 16, 2018 and sentencing was set for this week to allow the Mississippi Department of Corrections to conduct a pre-sentence investigation. She will be required to serve ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, followed by five years of probation.
The defendant served as treasurer for the Pink Hearts Foundation, a charity that provides wigs for children and adults with hair loss disorders, including patients receiving cancer treatment, and also provides breast prosthetics and assistance for women following mastectomies. “In her position as treasurer, Rosetti-Spence cashed checks from March 2015 through June 2016, which totaled over $266,000.000. She cashed the checks at various banks across Harrison County, using the money to gamble at various casinos,” said Assistant District Attorney Jason Josef, who prosecuted the case. At her plea, the defendant admitted she had none of the money left.
The president of the organization, JoAn Niceley discovered the embezzlement in August 2016, when the bank contacted her to say the charity’s account was empty. Numerous volunteers with the organization and clients who received wigs or breast prosthetics from Pink Hearts submitted letters to the court or spoke at the sentencing hearing. Judge Dodson stated that the defendant’s crime was despicable, especially in light of the fact that the defendant’s own mother had received benefits from the charity. In reviewing facts, the judge noted that the defendant’s acts showed an ongoing pattern of conduct for more than a year, which the defendant had a chance to turn around. At one point, the judge pointed out that Rosetti-Spence wrote herself checks totaling more than Twelve Thousand Dollars over a three-day period.
District Attorney Joel Smith, stated “This was an unthinkable crime. The defendant, as someone who worked at the charity, knew her actions would impact not only the charity but the people who depended on its services for wigs and breast prosthetics. We hope that the sentence handed down by Judge Dodson allows the Pink Hearts fund and its volunteers to move forward and continue the organization’s mission of assisting persons affected by cancer and hair loss disorders.”