Barbara Gannon was the director of Grand Island’s Golden Age Center. People trusted her with the senior center’s operations, including the money. Unfortunately, Ms. Gannon was addicted to casino gambling. From 2011 to 2017, she embezzled $110,671 from the center. An accountant finally discovered the theft when Ms. Gannon retired in 2017. She pled guilty in Erie County Court in February and could face up to 15 years in prison.
Addiction and crime
Too often, addiction leads people into crimes like theft to help fund their addiction. Addiction, whether alcohol, drugs or gambling, feeds off of people’s resources until nothing is left. Meanwhile, the addiction only grows stronger. The addict becomes desperate and turns to theft. Perhaps no addiction can run through someone’s money faster than gambling. As the Erie County DA John Flynn stated, once someone successfully steals the first time without being caught, doing it again becomes easier and easier, until the temptation to steal is out of control.
What is embezzlement?
In New York, embezzlement is a type of larceny, or taking property from someone else. Embezzlement involves someone who sits in a position of trust on behalf of someone else or an entity, like a business. The most common example involves someone stealing money from their employer or business. Another example is a trustee stealing money from a trust. The charges depend on the amount of money stolen. Anything over $1,000 is a felony charge and the penalties vary based on the seriousness of the charge.
Finding help for addiction
Like any addiction, gambling addiction is a mental health issue. Treatment centers do exist in the Buffalo area to help people with their gambling addiction. If you or a loved one suffers from this problem, many options are available. If you already face criminal charges in Erie County because of gambling, ask your attorney whether gambling court might be an appropriate option for you. The only gambling court in the state operates in nearby Amherst. Judge Mark Farrell created the court based on the drug court model. This focuses on therapy, intervention and rehabilitation for people charged with non-violent crimes due to their gambling addiction.
Gambling addiction can destroy people’s lives and lead to serious criminal consequences. If you or a loved one struggles with this issue, help is available.