BUFFALO, NY - Timothy Wanamaker, a former top aide to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, was sentenced Tuesday in Federal Court for stealing from programs that received federal funding.
Wanamaker was sentenced to three years probation and must pay back all of the funds that were stolen.
Wanamaker pled guilty last year to the thefts.
WEB EXTRA: Read the Plea Agreement in the Wanamaker Case
Wanamaker, who was Executive Director of the City of Buffalo's Office of Strategic Planning from 2004 until 2008, admitted that while serving as Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation (BERC) President, he improperly used a credit card provided to him by BERC for official business for a wide range of non-work related expenses. Specifically, Wanamaker admitted using the credit card to pay for such personal expenses as lodging, car rentals, entertainment, and other costs accrued by his family and guests. The costs arose during trips to such locations as San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Wanamaker and the Government estimated that the misappropriated money amounted to approximately $30,000.
Last month, Wanamaker's attorney, James Harrington told Two On Your Side that, "he feels horrible about what he did, because he violated his duty of public trust, not only to HUD, but to the people in Buffalo and he feels terrible about it."
Wanamaker was supposed to be sentenced last month, but the judge presiding over the case, Judge Richard Arcara, was unsatisfied with prosecutors explanations of how essential Wanamaker's cooperation was in terms of uncovering other possible misdeeds at City Hall, at one point demanding "straight answers" from prosecutors, to prove to him the amount of co-operation Wanamaker gave federal officials warranted leniency.
Two On Your Side's Jeff Preval heard from Mayor Brown about what the Office of Strategic Planning has been doing since Wanamaker was dismissed.
"Yes, we have shored up a number of things and that's critically important, you can't rest on your laurels, we have to look at continuous improvement we are striving everyday to deliver services to the taxpayers of the City of Buffalo," Brown said.
While declining to comment about Wanamaker's case, Mayor Brown adds that he's been focused on trying to attract more businesses to come to the city. This includes a new ice rink complex in front of the First Niagara Center, and other Waterfront Development. Brown says BERC has since been disbanded and the city has been cutting commercial taxes and holding permitting fees down to get businesses here.
If Wanamaker didn't plead guilty to the crimes, he could've served up to ten years in prison.
According to his attorney, Wanamaker is out of politics and is working as a car salesman in Virginia.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development still provides millions of dollars annually to the city.