UPDATED: Alexandria government official stole $30,000 from Buffalo before being hired

UPDATED: Alexandria government official stole $30,000 from Buffalo before being hired

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

Timothy E. Wanamaker, deputy director of the city’s general services department, faces up to 10 years in jail after stealing about $30,000 in taxpayer money while working in Buffalo, N.Y.

Wanamaker, 47, struck a deal with federal prosecutors Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of stealing government funds from the city of Buffalo. The charge comes with a $250,000 fine, federal authorities said.

He has worked for the City of Alexandria since August 2010.

Officials in Alexandria placed Wanamaker on paid administrative leave Wednesday morning after he alerted them to the plea deal. His future status with the city remains unknown, but could change within the next several days, spokesman Tony Castrilli said.

Federal authorities did not contact the city prior to Wanamaker’s Tuesday court appearance, Castrilli said.

A background check completed by Waters Consulting prior to Wanamaker’s hiring did not reveal any past criminal activity or any ongoing investigations, Castrilli said.

Before coming to Alexandria, Wanamaker held several key municipal positions in Buffalo, including a stint as the executive director of Buffalo’s strategic planning office from 2004 to 2008. The post gave Wanamaker purview over the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation and Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

Wanamaker previously served as a top aide to Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, the Buffalo News reported Wednesday.

During his time with Buffalo’s government, Wanamaker admitted charging $30,000 worth of personal expenses to a city credit card. Wanamaker used the credit card, intended strictly for official business, to pay for hotel rooms, car rentals and entertainment for himself, family and guests on trips to San Francisco, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., among other locales, federal authorities said.

“Given that the city has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, every dollar taken from these development funds was a particularly damaging blow,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. in a statement. “Our office will faithfully protect federal funds intended to assist local communities, and will vigorously prosecute any official who breaches the public trust in this manner.”

Wanamaker did not have access to a city credit card during his tenure in Alexandria and did not engage in any business travel, Castrilli said.

Still, internal auditors will review Wanamaker’s financial dealings on behalf of the city.

Wanamaker departed Buffalo for a city manager position in Inglewood, Calif., in March 2008, according to the Buffalo News, though he left after just a year on the job.

Wanamaker’s sentencing is scheduled for March 16.