PITTSFIELD — "Realistically, your mother is not going to be there for your graduation."
That was a defense attorney's message to the 17-year-old daughter of Debora Goyette, who was sentenced to up to four years in jail on Tuesday.
A jury last week convicted Goyette of three counts of larceny and one count of making false entries in corporate books after about four hours of deliberations.
Goyette, 46, was found guilty of stealing of up to $170,000 from accounts belonging to patients and residents of the Hillcrest Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Valentine Road in Pittsfield between January 2009 and October 2012.
First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello, who prosecuted the case, described Goyette's thefts as a betrayal of people she was entrusted to protect.
He recommended a four- to six-year state prison sentence, based on the amount of money stolen and the vulnerability of those from whom she stole.
Goyette showed little reaction until her daughter, seated in the front row of the gallery, read a brief statement to Judge John Agostini, asking for leniency in sentencing.
"My mom is a good person," she said and described Goyette as "the glue to our family."
"We need her," she said, prompting Goyette to sob quietly in her seat.
Defense attorney Leonard Cohen said he had to be realistic when asking Agostini to consider a sentence and had to balance the severity of the crime against a fitting punishment and acknowledged some time behind bars was appropriate in her case.
"Realism calls for the imposition of punishment in this case," Cohen said and asked Agostini to consider a two-year jail sentence with one year to be served directly and the balance suspended for a period of probation, rather than state prison.
"She made a mistake," Agostini said. "A huge mistake."
"She is not evil," he said, noting that he's seen evil in his time on the bench.
Agostini agreed with Cohen that state prison was not appropriate and sentenced her to two years in jail on one of the larceny charges and another two years on the second, which will be served after the completion of the first sentence.
She received a two-year sentence on the remaining pair of charges, which will be served concurrently with the other sentences.
Goyette will serve her sentence at the Western Massachusetts Women's Correctional Center in Chicopee and was given credit for five days of time served while awaiting sentencing.
Agostini said she may be eligible for parole in two years.
Minutes later, she was escorted away in shackles.