Mother, Daughter On Trial For Theft From Fire Company

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WILKES-BARRE -- A mother and daughter are on trial this week in Luzerne County facing theft charges.

Prosecutors say they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a volunteer fire company that has since shut down.

This trial started Monday morning, nearly six years after theft charges were filed and after the fire company in Swoyersville closed.

Former firefighters took the stand. They want to know where all the money went.

"They said $700,000 is missing from that fire department?"

"She has no comment. The lawyer will speak for me."

Catherine Drago of Forty Fort and her daughter Carol Gamble of Swoyersville did not want to answer questions as they walked separately into the Luzerne County Courthouse.

Their trial comes nearly six years after they were accused of pocketing more than $734,000 from Swoyersville Volunteer Hose Company #1.

Investigators say the theft happened between 2004 and 2007 when Gamble and Drago were in charge of the revenue that came in from bingo and pull tab games at carnivals.

"We want an answer. We want to find out did they take it, didn't they take it? Where's it at?" said former firefighter Alan Hornick.

Hornick is a former firefighter for the hose company that shut down soon after the charges were filed in 2008. He testified that he started asking questions when the numbers weren't adding up.

Prosecutors say the bingo and bazaar games helped the fire company get out of bankruptcy, but after the money vanished the fire company essentially shut down and still sits empty.

"If they did what's being said, then they need to be prosecuted like everybody else."

Court records do not say where the money went but that Gamble and Drago were the only two in charge of the revenue and that police found casino player cards in Drago's home.

The six-year delay in bringing this case to trial is blamed on all of the audit and other financial reports.

The trial itself is expected to take just three days.

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