Former Pennsylvania City Council Member Faces Jail Time
A former city council member in Erie will now serve time in prison for stealing from a charity to gamble.
It is not uncommon to hear stories of gambling addiction. We all know that gambling can be addictive at times, so precautions need to be taken to ensure that when you enjoy casino games, they are done so safely. For one gambler from Pennsylvania, the addiction went too far, and she now faces jail time for stealing from a charity she founded to feed her gambling habit.
Sonya Arrington is a former Erie, Pennsylvania City Council president who is now about to serve a year and one day in prison for gambling addiction behaviors. Earlier this week, Arrington was sentenced for her crimes by a federal judge in Pittsburgh.
Major Crime, Refused to Leave
Senior US District Judge David S. Cercone said on Monday that Arrington had broken the trust of public as well as charitable organizations with her actions. The sentence was imposed on the former City Council member as it called for a respect for the law, according to the judge.
From 2012 to 2018, Arrington took money from a charitable organization she founded to play casino games at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino. The group she swindled is known as the Mothers Against Teen Violence.
On top of the theft from the charitable organization, Arrington also claimed social security disability payments of almost $30,000 that were not hers to claim. She seems to have had a tough gambling addiction and exhibited behaviors in order to have funds to gamble with.
It was way back in April 2018 that Arrington was indicted on the charges. She was charged with 33 felony counts. Included in the mix was wire fraud. In a surprising turn of events, the state of Pennsylvania does not require such individuals to resign. So, despite the many charges against her, Arrington remained in her position as Council President.
She completed her four year term, which ended in January 2020. She was able to serve in the position since the court allowed her to be free on bond. Prosecutors said that the action of not resigning is just another sign that Arrington is not remorseful for her actions.
FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge, Mike Nordwall, commented during the hearing, stating that Arrington treated the charity organization she created as a personal bank account. Her selfish acts and greed shortchanged the efforts of the community to prevent violence among teens.
Arrington says that she accepts accountability for her actions and told the judge so during her sentencing. She founded the charitable organization in 2010 after her 19-year-old son was shot and killed.
According to the defendant, she sought solace from the slot machines after her mother passed away four years ago. It was a way she found peace, just pushing a button, instead of having to speak to anyone.
Along with using the money she took for gambling, Arrington also used funds to go to Disney World as well as pay for personal expenses.
The United States Attorney’s Office was alerted to Arrington’s behavior when a bank employee found irregularities in the financials of the charity organization. ATM withdrawals were noticed by the employee at the casino from accounts operated by the organization.
During the sentencing this week, the judge also told Arrington that she must seek help for her gambling addiction. Once she is out of prison, she will need to undergo two years of supervised release. With the day added to her current sentence, it allows Arrington to be released from jail if she exhibits good behavior.
This is just one of many examples of how gambling addiction can go wrong. Always seek help if you or a loved one are suffering from this type of addiction.