A New Haven man narrowly avoided a prison sentence and a criminal conviction after he paid nearly $28,000 in restitution to his 91-year-old father in Darien.

At the Stamford courthouse Thursday, Dennis Usky, 57, of New Haven was granted a court diversionary program called accelerated rehabilitation that will expunge a first-degree larceny charge against him if he successfully completes the one-year probationary program and does not break any laws in the meantime.

Usky was reluctantly granted the program for first-time offenders by Judge Richard Comerford after he paid his father $27,688 to cover about 20 checks of his father's that Usky to cover his own expenses, court records show.

But, Comerford offered the married New Haven father of two and quality control supervisor for a well-known Branford gunbarrel manufacturer a warning. "If you ripped off your father, God help you," he said.

According to his five-page arrest warrant, Darien police in September received a complaint from Maple Street resident Joseph Usky that his son had stolen about $30,000 from him. Usky told police that he had given his son power of attorney and his checkbook. He said that he discovered that between February and July of 2002 that his son withdrew cash for his own personal use, made debit payments for purchases unrelated to his father and wrote checks to his wife to cover insurance and medical bills for his own animals. One check Usky made out to himself was worth $15,000, the warrant said.

Dennis Usky was arrested by Darien police on Dec. 7, and released on a promise to appear. According to a statement by his caregiver, Joseph Usky asked police to arrest his son for the theft.