2 Women Accused of Stealing $734,748 in Bingo Funds

Over $700,000 in bingo proceeds was an insurmountable temptation; criminal trial is the irrefutable result!

The proceeds from charitable bingo, pull-tabs and carnivals were ear-marked for the Swoyersville Volunteer Hose Company 1 in Pennsylvania. $734,748 never reached its proper destination. The volunteer fire department has shut down, and two women are facing criminal trials.

Control over the Money

An 81-year-old Pennsylvania woman, Catherine Drago, was the treasurer of the fire department. Her daughter, Carol Gamble, was the president. The two women exclusively tallied, bundled, handled and transported the cash. No one else had the authority to touch any of it. It appears that unfortunately the hundreds of thousands of dollars in bingo proceeds proved to be too great a temptation. 81 years of age, and her lack of self-restraint has now completely ruined her good life. She is scheduled to stand trial on October 15, 2012 for the theft of the bingo proceeds.

State Audit

A few years ago, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations audited the fire company’s records. They found that $734,748 was missing from the fire company’s revenue acquired between January 2004 and November 2007. The women were charged in 2009. The individual six-count trial for each defendant had been inexplicably postponed over the past three years. Judge Lesa Gelb, of the Luzerne County Court, finally set Drago’s trial date, which is scheduled to occur two weeks after the trial of her 50-year-old daughter.

The Bureau has stated that an incomplete record of the fire department’s income was filed by Drago. It was also revealed by the Bureau that Drago has admitted to placing false data on a public disclosure form. Not much is left to the imagination. It appears that the cases will be quickly concluded at trial. The saddest elements concern human frailty in the face of a huge monetary lure, and the prison cell in its wake.