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Grand Island woman admits stealing $110K from senior center

Chris Caya

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says a Grand Island woman who stole more than $110,000 from a town senior center will probably never pay it back.

Flynn was talking about Barbara Gannon, 71, who on Tuesday pleaded guilty to one charge of grand larcency in the second degree for pocketing the money over six years working at the Golden Age Center.

"Take the example of there are 30 seniors who were going to Niagara Falls, for example, for $10 a person. These 30 seniors would give her $10 in cash, okay?" Flynn said. "There were so many transactions over six years. In this particular case, she might have put the full $300 in her pocket or she might have put $150 in the account and kept $150 out. So it was a mix-match of how she embezzled the money over the six-year period."

Flynn said the theft was discovered by the Town of Grand Island only after Gannon retired in 2017 and they began reviewing unpaid bills.

"What is really disturbing is the fact that it took Grand Island six years to uncover this," Flynn said. "I don't know why there was no accounting done to monitor the recreation department. I don't know why there weren't regular audits that were done that might have found this earlier. Those are questions that Grand Island officials need to answer."

Credit Chris Caya / WBFO News
Barbara Gannon, 71, appears in court to plead guilty to one count of grand larceny in the second degree.

Flynn said the town has since initiated new controls to prevent embezzlement in the future, and the town's insurance covered the loss.

As part of the plea, Flynn said Gannon has agreed to pay back the full amount. He said she has paid back about $6,000 so far.

He said Gannon had a gambling problem, and is now facing a minimum of probation and a maximum of 15 years in prison when sentenced in May. He does not yet know what sentence he may recommend, but will consider many factors.

"Her age, you know, 71 years old. You know, never been in trouble before at all. The recognition that gambling addiction is a disease and it is a problem, so I have some sympathy for that. Those things factor in on the mercy side of me," Flynn said. "And on the throw-the-book-at-her side of me is the fact that she was a public employee. She worked for a municipality. She basically directly robbed the taxpayers of Grand island and that is unacceptable."