Ex-fire company treasurer accused of stealing $20K to gamble at NY, Las Vegas casinos

Robert Harding

Auburn Citizen

Apr 14, 2018

The former treasurer of an Ontario County fire company is accused of stealing more than $20,000 to cover gambling expenses at casinos in New York and Las Vegas.

Wendy Wharton, 53, of Manchester, was arrested Friday by the Ontario County Sheriff's Office. She has been charged with third-degree grand larceny.

The charge stems from an audit and investigation by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and the Ontario County Sheriff's Office. Wharton, who served as treasurer for the Citizens Hose Company and its auxiliary, allegedly used the fire company's credit and debit cards to obtain cash advances and withdraw money.

DiNapoli said Wharton then used the funds to gamble at casinos in central New York, the Finger Lakes region and Las Vegas.

"This fire official bet she wouldn't be caught as she gambled away public money and violated the trust of her community," DiNapoli said in a statement.

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero lauded the Shortsville Fire Department for finding that the funds were missing and alerting law enforcement. He also noted that his agency has a good rapport with the comptroller's office.

"Having their investigators and auditors assist the Ontario County Sheriff's Office investigators resulted in a more thorough and timely investigation for submission to the district attorney's office," Povero said.

Wharton's case is being prosecuted by Ontario County District Attorney James Ritts.

Wharton was arraigned Friday. Her next court date is Wednesday. She is scheduled to appear before Canandaigua City Court Judge Stephen Aronson.

"We will take any allegations of larceny from first responders and volunteer fire departments very seriously," Ritts said. "We will continue to aggressively investigate these cases to bring justice to those who take money from those volunteer firefighters."