Canandaigua Police: Woman steals more than $12K from Gold Star Wives of America

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CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WHEC) — A woman is facing charges after Canandaigua Police say she stole more than $12,000 from the Gold Star Wives of America, a group that helps women who have lost their husbands to a military-related cause of death.

Police say that woman is Jennifer Cratsley, 49, and that at the time of the crime, she lived in Canandaigua, but shortly before she was arrested on Monday, she changed her address to one in Niagara Falls.

Investigators say Cratsley was looking to start a local chapter of the Gold Star Wives of America, which gave her access to the non-profit’s money. Over the course of fewer than four weeks, she then took the money out of its bank account through credit and debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals for things like car repairs and utility bills, according to police.

Canandaigua Police Chief Mathew Nielsen told News10NBC’s Nikki Rudd the case is personal for him, because his father was a Vietnam War veteran, and ended up dying from ALS that he developed because of Agent Orange exposure.

"It’s hard to believe that somebody would be going through the same things that my family went through and would take advantage of that organization, but there’s a lot of personal aspects of people’s lives that I guess would influence their decisions to do something like that," Nielsen said. "I just, it’s hard for me to understand it."

Cratsley’s biography from her work website says she volunteers with the 4H program, Blue Star Mothers of America, The American Legion, Tragedy Assistant Program for Survivors and is the treasurer of the Midlakes Junior Eagles Football and Cheerleading Youth Program.

So far, Police say there haven’t been any other reports of missing or stolen money from these other organizations.

News10NBC reached out to the Gold Star Wives of America. The National President said she can’t comment right now because it’s an ongoing investigation.

Cratsley is charged with third degree grand larceny. If convicted, she could face prison time.

She was arraigned on Feb. 14 at the Ontario County CAP Court. Her next appearance is scheduled for Feb. 23 at 8:30 a.m. in Canandaigua City Court.