JOHN CAHER Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B6

Date: Saturday, July 22, 1995

ALBANY An appellate court has upheld the conviction of a Delmar compulsive gambler from who stole nearly $1 million from acquaintances and then blamed his crimes on mental illness. The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court flatly rejected Frank Kindlon's argument that he should not be held responsible for his thefts because he is a pathological gambler. Kindlon, 52, formerly of 31 Gardner Terrace, is serving a 10- to 20-year term for second- and third-degree grand larceny.

Evidence at trial showed that Kindlon stole the life savings of several friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, he ``borrowed'' money under the ruse that he needed cash to bankroll a lawsuit. Other times, he scared the victims by telling them they were under surveillance.

Kindlon, who had a prior record as a con man, claimed he couldn't help himself, but then-Albany County Judge John G. Turner Jr. ruled that compulsive gambling is not a justifiable defense. He was convicted and sentenced as a repeat offender.

Defense attorney Raymond A. Kelly Jr. raised several objections on appeal, but the court unanimously upheld the conviction and sentence.

``Any error made by county court in the evidentiary rulings was harmless, given the overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt,'' the court said in an opinion released Thursday by Justice John T. Casey.

Assistant District Attorney George H. Barber argued the appeal.