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Use of debit card leads to charges of theft and related crimes

A director of the Dickson City Civic Center will be required to stand trial on several white collar criminal charges, including device fraud, receiving stolen property and theft. The case provides an instructive catalog of various white collar crimes that occur when a public official has access to an organization's bank accounts and credit cards.

The director turned herself in to authorities in August 2014 after detectives from Lackawanna County found evidence that she had withdrawn nearly $20,000 from the center's bank account by using the civic center's credit card at ATMs in local casinos. The Dickson City treasurer had alerted police because he found that the center had lost $30,000 in spite of increased revenue during the year. After turning herself in, the director was suspended from her job without pay. In a preliminary hearing before a district magistrate judge, the prosecutors added two charges relating to the director's use of the center's money to finance a cruise ship vacation for her and her family.

The defense contends that the director rescued the Center from financial mismanagement when she was hired 10 years ago. The defense also contends that the director loaned money from her personal funds to help the civic center regain its financial footing and that the money the director is accused of stealing was reimbursement for these loans. The defendant will be formally arraigned on Jan. 5, 2015.

A key piece of evidence in the case is an investigation showing that the director had lost more than $141,000 gambling at casinos and race tracks over four years. The prosecution will use this evidence to establish a motive for the thefts.

Financial crimes such as those involving the civic center director depend heavily on financial records to establish guilt or prove innocence. A person accused of this type of crime should consult an attorney with experience in analyzing and evaluating financial records.

Source: Scranton Times Tribune, "Suspended civic center director headed for trial, two new felonies filed," Joseph Kohut, Nov. 20, 2014

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