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Defense attorney requests time to gather bingo returns and provide them to an expert.

Last updated: June 27. 2013 1:32AM - 2878 Views
By SHEENA DELAZIO



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WILKES-BARRE – A trial for a mother and daughter charged with taking more than $700,000 in bingo proceeds has been rescheduled for a sixth time.


At a brief hearing Wednesday before Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb, an attorney for Catherine Drago, 82, said he needed more time to look over bingo returns to give to an expert expected to testify at the trial.


Gelb rescheduled the July 29 trial to begin on Oct. 28.


Drago, of Forty Fort, and her daughter, Carol Gamble, 51, of West Pittston, who are still officers of the Swoyersville Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1, were charged in December 2008 with pilfering money collected through bingo games the department held during a three-year period.


Attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. said he needs bingo returns for years between 2005 and 2008 before the case can proceed. He said he will likely obtain those documents from the state police this week.


After a discussion regarding scheduling issues of attorneys involved, including Gamble’s attorney, William Ruzzo, and Assistant District Attorney Tom Hogans, as well as an investigator in the case, Gelb scheduled the October trial date.


It is the sixth time in two years the trial has been continued, including most recently because Drago suffered a heart attack.


According to court papers, the two women were charged after an investigation that began in 2005 with the state Bureau of Charitable Organizations.


Drago had served as the hose company’s treasurer while Gamble served as president. Both women allegedly took control of collecting and depositing money generated at bingo games that were held as a fundraiser for the department.


Drago allegedly submitted incomplete information as part of a routine survey the bureau conducts. A bureau official became suspicious because the amount of revenue Drago reported the bingo games generated was less than the bureau thought it should be.


An audit was conducted, according to the criminal complaint, which determined the hose company generated a total of $1,789,529 from Jan. 1, 2004 to Nov. 14, 2007.


Of that amount, $1,054,781 was deposited into the department’s bank account, leaving $734,748 unaccounted for.


Search warrants conducted in the case revealed Drago and Gamble allegedly issued checks totaling more than $400,000 to themselves between January 2004 and September 2006, according to court papers.


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