Target 8 Investigation: HARC executive sentenced to federal prison

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Exposed by Target 8, prosecuted and convicted by the federal government, the man who orchestrated a plan to steal from people with Alzheimer’s’ and Down Syndrome is headed to federal prison.

Frank Pannullo, a former Chief Financial Officer for the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, or H.A.R.C., is going to prison for two years.

Panullo was one of the big dogs at H.A.R.C. charged after a 2011 Target 8 investigation revealed he and others illegally took Social Security money from clients.

Pannullo hoped to avoid jail time. As he walked into the Tampa Federal Courthouse, he had no real comment about the kind of sentence he felt he deserved for cooperating with the government’s investigation into H.A.R.C.

“I have nothing to say,” stated Pannullo.

However, the 70-year-old former CFO had plenty to say in court. He told Judge Mary Scriven that he is ashamed and embarrassed that he helped steal hundreds of thousands of dollars of Social Security benefits from clients like Linda Loveridge.

At Loveridge’s expense, Pannullo and former CEO Richard Lilliston gave themselves big raises.

Related: 8 On Your Side Investigation: Money diverted from disabled at H.A.R.C.

Loveridge’s sister is Beverly Wall.

“When I pick my sister up at the school every month to bring [her] home for the weekend, you have to step over people that can’t wipe their own noses,” said Wall. “It just infuriates me that they would steal from those people, of all people.”

Pannullo and Lilliston also helped themselves to an $1,800 a month car allowance.

Target 8 exposed it all in 2011.

A federal investigation followed. Pannullo pleaded guilty. He then helped the government prosecute Richard Lilliston.

Judge Scriven handed Pannullo two years in prison.

Beverly Wall attended the sentencing to see Pannullo punished.

“I think the maximum is five years, and I think he should’ve gotten it all and maybe come out of prison in a pine box. I mean, that’s a horrible thing to say, but I have no sympathy for him.”

Pannullo is also on the hook for $617,000 restitution at $100 a month.

“He’s got a pension, he’s got Social Security and he’s got his little $10 dollar an hour job or whatever,” explained Wall. “So, if you add that up, I think all of it ought to go. I don’t care if he’s a pauper in the street, let him have what he deserves.”

So what did Pannullo have to say to the clients of H.A.R.C.?

“I said it all in the courtroom, I’m very sorry,” said Pannullo.

“He stole, he got caught and that’s the only reason he’s sorry,” stated Wall. “Otherwise, he’d be sitting up on the high horse that he was riding back then.”

Because Pannullo helped with the successful prosecution of Richard Lilliston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended a lighter sentence.

He got 24 months, instead of 57, followed by three years of supervision and the restitution.

The judge instructed Pannullo to turn himself in at the end of October.

Richard Lilliston is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Pannullo asked for leniency and pointed out to the judge that he is under treatment for depression.

She asked if he was diagnosed before his arrest.

“No, your honor,” he said.

If you have a problem you think needs to be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808 or contact Steve at sandrews@wfla.com.

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