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Former Arts Council director pleads guilty to theft of money

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Celeste Lawson

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The former director of the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County pleaded guilty Tuesday to a third degree grand larceny charge and failure to file state income tax returns.

County prosecutors allege that Celeste Lawson stole more than 25-thousand dollars by charging personal expenses on the council's credit card. They say some of these charges were cash advances at a casino.

Lawson faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Lawson was fired in January after allegations surfaced about mismanagement and lax accounting procedures at the Arts Council. She served as director for 13 years.