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LATROBE, Pa. - An 80-year-old Pennsylvania woman is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from her Westmoreland County church.
According to police, she took money from her personal account to help others, then would reimburse herself using money from St. Vincent de Paul.
Once president of St. Florian's St. Vincent de Paul charity, Eleanor Wallak is now accused of stealing more than $36,000 from the account that's meant to help the needy.
"She was using it to purchase things like cigarettes, cat food," said Trooper Steve Limani with Pennsylvania State Police. "She was using it to entertain herself at social clubs, and one of her clients she was supposed to actually help passed away in 2011."
"If they feel like I used the money improperly, I would be glad to take care of it," Wallak said.
Wallak ran the program through the church to help people with utility bills, food or housing, but instead police say she was spending thousands on herself.
She told WPXI that it's all a misunderstanding.
"I did the best I could for the people," Wallak said. "I don't think you could find one person that called for help that I didn't help. Not one."
From October 2013 to 2016, investigators told WPXI, bank records show more than $14,000 was withdrawn from area ATMS, from the Meadows to Trauger Social Hall.
She's also accused of spending $1,400 at a beer distributor and nearly $5,000 paying off utility bills for herself and her two sons.
"Some of it, they're doing for spite and some of it they're doing whatever reason, I don't know," Wallak said.
"It's the last thing you think an elderly person would do is take advantage of people that are supposed to be receiving money because they're needy," Limani said.
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