Main Line heiress pleads guilty to nanny attack

Posted: July 03, 2007

Villanova heiress Susan Tabas Tepper, who has been in prison for six weeks on probation-violation charges, pleaded guilty Tuesday to physically harassing her children's nanny and the woman's 9-year-old daughter May 20.

Tepper, 44, acknowledged in Montgomery County Court that the crimes had violated her probation for attacking another nanny in May 2006.

The mother of four will be sentenced for the offenses after 30 days of court-ordered inpatient psychiatric treatment, to begin as early as Friday. Tepper faces a maximum of 18 months behind bars.

"There's good evidence she's got mental problems," said Assistant District Attorney John Gradel, who declined to elaborate on psychological evaluations of the banking-and-hotel millionaire.

"She's just not right in the head," Gradel said.

Defense lawyer Marc Steinberg said psychologists believe that Tepper suffers from "anniversary syndrome," a post-traumatic stress disorder that causes her to lash out "about the third week of May."

To protect her privacy, Steinberg would not elaborate on the event in Tepper's past that makes May a trigger month. It has nothing to do with her former marriage to lawyer Kenneth Tepper, Steinberg said.

In an agreement between Gradel and Steinberg, Tepper left Montgomery County prison Tuesday after posting 10 percent of $50,000 bail.

Tepper scratched the face of Urszula Kordzior, a longtime employee, then shoved Kordzior's daughter to the ground when the girl tried to intervene. Tepper had denied the charges, saying she had fired Kordzior and was trying to stop her from stealing her car.

In February, Tepper was given a year's probation for attacking Xiomara D. Salinas, 43, in 2006. Tepper was also ordered to perform community service and complete an anger-management course.

According to police, Tepper flew into a rage and attacked Salinas with a bag of carrots and a cell phone, among other objects, for failing to remove old produce from Tepper's refrigerator.

Tepper had a frozen half-smile and no comment as she walked to the hearing through a hallway lined with reporters. Her frosted blond hair was tied high in a ponytail, and, except for the handcuffs, her attire - a tailored cranberry jacket, a black scooped-neck shirt, and black pants - belied her inmate status.

"No amount of money got her out any faster," said Steinberg, who said Montgomery County prohibits bail for probation violations.

Tepper faces six months in prison for the two harassment charges and a year for the probation violation, Gradel said. He said he would see how her treatment went before deciding what punishment to recommend. The final decision will be Judge Bernard A. Moore's, Gradel said.

Tepper is expected to see her children, age 2 to 13, before she enters the residential program, said Steinberg, who said he found his client to be pleasant and intelligent. The three oldest are staying with their father, Kenneth Tepper. Her 2-year-old son is with his father, Tony Fercos, star of a magic and wild-animal act for which Susan Tepper does publicity.

Asked whether Tepper had shared her thoughts about prison life, Steinberg said yes.

"She found the prison to be very well-run and well-organized."


Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-701-7625 or kbrady@phillynews.com.

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