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Grand Island Town Board: Opinions differ on sentence for theft from town's Golden Age Center

Sat, May 11th 2019 06:55 am

By Larry Austin

Island Dispatch Editor

Barbara Gannon’s sentence by Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio to 5 years of probation for stealing thousands of dollars from the town’s Meals on Wheels program avoids what amounts to a death sentence for the former Golden Age Center recreation supervisor.

According to the Erie County District Attorney’s office, Gannon pleaded guilty, as charged, to one count of grand larceny in the second degree, a class C felony, in February 2019 after she admitted that she stole $110,671 between July 2011 and Dec. 5, 2017, while employed at the GAC. Gannon admitted she had a gambling addiction.

“I went to the court” for the sentencing, Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray said Monday. “This is a woman who’s over 70 years old. She’s literally in Roswell under cancer treatment. It was absolutely despicable what she did, but I can’t understand how it’s a benefit of taxpayer money for us to put her in prison to cost more taxpayer money. Now, thankfully, the insurance covered that cost. Our title insurance covered the cost.”

McMurray said the town discovered the loss and referred the matter to the district attorney. The theft had “been going on for years and years, well, before I was supervisor.”

“I wanted her punished more than anybody. But I want to do a punishment that was appropriate and made sense. She’s a very sick woman,” McMurray said. “For her to go to jail would be a death sentence.”

According to the District Attorney’s office, Gannon is required to pay $200 per month in restitution. As part of her probation, she is not permitted to enter any casino or participate in any online gambling. She is also required to seek counseling for her addiction and must perform 140 hours of community service.

Councilman Mike Madigan said he was “extremely displeased with the lack of appropriate consequence” in the sentence, saying “based on what I have read it sounds like she will likely receive full pension, a small fraction of which ($200/month) she will be paying back while retaining most of the stolen funds.”

Madigan said the probation was “no deterrence – sends a really bad message. She has an interest free loan.”

Madigan said the amount she admitted to stealing “is likely a fraction of what was truly stolen.”

“The Town Board is accountable for this failure and I take that responsibility serious,” Madigan said.

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