2:54 PM CDT, June 1, 2008
MUNCIE, Ind. - A man who pleaded guilty to stealing $3,000 from a group that promotes education claims his addiction to scratch-off lottery tickets led him to steal the money.
James P. Whalen, 59, of Muncie said he stole the money to support a habit of spending up to $50 every day on scratch-off tickets.
Whalen was sentenced to six months last week in the Delaware County jail after pleading guilty to forgery, a felony that carries carrying a standard four-year prison term.
Under his plea agreement, three other forgery charges and a theft count were dismissed.
Whalen, who had no prior felony convictions, was accused of writing checks totaling $3,159 on the account of the local branch of the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children.
A relative of Whalen's is affiliated with the group, which promotes "quality care and education for all young children birth through age eight in Indiana," according to its Web site.
The judge who sentenced Whalen also ruled that he would be on probation for two years upon his release from jail and ordered him to make full restitution to the group.
It seems like he basically got a slap on the wrist. He only has to serve 6 months and the other charges of theft were dismissed.