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Former councilman facing theft, forgery charges in Lackawanna County

A former city councilman in Lackawanna County turned himself in Monday morning to face theft and forgery charges.

CARBONDALE, Pa. — Joseph McDonald resigned from Carbondale city council last month, and on Monday morning, he turned himself in to face charges of theft and forgery in Lackawanna County.

Besides serving on Carbondale City Council, Joseph McDonald had been the store manager of Mr. B's Tobacco Shop in Carbondale for several years, where McDonald admits he took thousands of scratch-off lottery tickets and cashed them in illegally.

Credit: WNEP

In December of last year, store owners, Mayor Justin Taylor and his wife Ashley, noticed some discrepancies in the business's lottery account.

Then in February, they reported the theft of 188 packs of Pennsylvania Lottery scratch-off tickets from the store, valued at more than $97,000.

The Lackawanna County District Attorney's office got involved and found McDonald activating those packs of tickets, scratching them off, and redeeming the winners. Sometimes at Mr. B's and other times at Wegmans in Dickson City and Weis Market in Carbondale. 

For winnings over $600, the business has to file a claim form with the Pennsylvania Lottery. Forms were found with Justin Taylor's signature that he accuses McDonald of forging.

Investigators determined between December of 2020 and January of this year, McDonald cashed in on more than $63,000 from the stolen tickets. In all, the total theft adds up to $163,000.

People we spoke with say they are outraged that someone they trusted could do something like this.

 and from a local shop, and he was on council, and that destroys trust," said Mark Galaydick of Carbondale.

"It's terrible for what he's has done. I've been in here, and I've seen him, and I can't believe he did this," said Caroline Gursky of Carbondale.

"They don't think of the outcome, and along with that, now he's going to have to pay for it in the long run. That's gonna be it," said John Lester of Carbondale.

McDonald was fired from his job at Mr. B's in January. He resigned from Carbondale city council last month, blaming work conflicts.

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