Gambling Has Led to Downfall of Prominent Citizens in NW Pennsylvania
Sonya Arrington is not the only prominent citizen whose trouble with the law has been linked to gambling.
The Federal Grand Jury indictment against Erie City Council President Sonya Arrington is filled with pages about gambling. Arrington is charged with diverting $70,000 dollars from her non-profit organization and using some of it to gamble at Presque Isle Downs Casino. Arrington, however, is not the only prominent citizen whose trouble with the law has been linked to gambling.
In 2012, Patricia Eakin was sentenced in federal court for embezzling over $40,000 from the PNC Bank in Titusville, where she worked. She admitted to having a longtime gambling addiction and she told the court that it escalated after the casino opened. She also said, "I'm not blaming the casino." She was sentenced to 1 month in jail with 7 months of house arrest.
In 2011, Nancy Brown was sentenced to 6 to 18 years in jail for stealing $389,000 from the payroll accounts at Springfield Township. She served as the township secretary. Her lawyer said most of the money was spent at Presque Isle Downs Casino and other casinos.
In 2016, Tim Lewis and his wife Debra were charged with stealing over $120,000 from the Meadville Moose Lodge, where they served as administrators. $60,000 of it was gambled away at Presque Isle Downs Casino. Tim Lewis was also warden at the Crawford County Prison at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to 8 to 23 months in jail. His wife received probation.
According to the indictment against Sonya Arrington, she's racked up over $100,000 in gambling losses at the casino since 2012. She founded Mothers Against Teen Violence (MAT-V) after her son was shot and killed in 2010. Liz Allen, a colleague on city council, wonders if gambling could be a mitigating factor in Arrington's criminal case.
"Gambling is an illness, or an addiction, or a disease, like any other disease. That led me to be thinking about the grief that she has faced with the loss of her son. Everybody deals with grief differently," Allen said.
According to the indictment, not all of Arrington's alleged expenditures with the non-profit's funds took place at the casino .The indictment states she also spent the funds for clothing, groceries, and car washes, and also to buy food at Disney World.