The wife of a 69-year-old former Main Line lawyer now holds the keys to his jail cell.
Dorothy "Dot" Mirarchi enjoyed a lavish lifestyle - including a nearly $2 million beach house, high-roller status at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, and a Lexus - courtesy of her husband's thievery, authorities said.
In April 2008, she reportedly agreed to an unusual plea bargain to help repay part of the $1.32 million her husband, Ralph E. Mirarchi, admitted stealing from two clients, one of whom was left virtually penniless.
By agreeing to sell the couple's home in Berwyn and a four-bedroom home in Avalon, N.J., that was put in her name while the thefts were occurring, Dorothy Mirarchi could reduce her spouse's incarceration.
She apparently had a change of heart, and yesterday Chester County Court Judge Thomas G. Gavin sentenced Mirarchi to 41/4 to 81/2 years in prison. But the judge did not slam the cell door: If some restitution occurs within the next 30 days, Gavin said, he will reconsider the sentence.
Other attorneys in the case said Robert W. Lynch of Camden County was Dorothy Mirarchi's counsel. When asked, he said he was "not involved" in the case against Ralph Mirarchi. Asked whether he represented Dorothy Mirarchi, he said, "That would be confidential."
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Ost-Prisco said his office was not accusing Dorothy Mirarchi of any wrongdoing and was not seeking to bankrupt her. The agreement called for her to receive $600,000 from the proceeds of both homes for living expenses, Ost-Prisco said.
The deal also included a provision that Ralph Mirarchi, who voluntarily gave up his law license and has been incarcerated about 15 months, would not be prosecuted for other victims who have come forward since, he said.
The couple, married for 40 years, netted $500,000 when their Berwyn home sold last fall, profits that Dorothy Mirarchi used to pay off her Lexus instead of the victims, Ost-Prisco said. The Avalon home on West 21st Street, where Dorothy Mirarchi resides, was listed for $1.9 million and taken off the market in February, he said.
The case began after Paul Pezzotti Sr., who hired Mirarchi at Mirarchi Law Associates in Tredyffrin Township in the 1980s to handle retirement investments, wanted to make funding changes in July 2006, the criminal complaint said.
After Mirarchi resisted for several months, he finally admitted he had "squandered" Pezzotti's certificate of deposit worth more than $892,000, and police began a probe that uncovered other victims, the complaint said. Ost-Prisco said Pezzotti also lost thousands of dollars he paid Mirarchi in legal fees.
Pezzotti, 78, who worked for 40 years as a landscaper and now has health problems, had to return to work, Ost-Prisco said.
"The most Mr. Pezzotti can hope to recover is about 30 cents on the dollar," he said. "We don't think it's unreasonable to ask Mrs. Mirarchi to have a heart."
Attorney John J. Duffy, who represents Ralph Mirarchi, wants everyone to stop bickering over the money.
"I talked to lawyers for the victims, and they don't want to move, and her lawyers won't budge," Duffy said.
Without a compromise, "nobody gets a dime. That seems to be stupid," he said.