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A Buffalo woman who stole more than $66,000 from her employer to feed her gambling habit pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree grand larceny.

Candice L. McCrae, 63, of Eden Street, admitted that between Feb. 13, 2012, and Aug. 13, 2013, she stole $66,650 in cash from J. Mills Distributing Co., an Orchard Park food wholesaler where she worked as accounts receivable manager.

Erie County Legislator John J. Mills, R-Orchard Park, owns the business.

McCrae, who worked at the company for four years, was fired in August when the theft was discovered, Mills said.

“It’s one of those things you think will never happen to you, but after being in business for 37 years, it eventually happened,” he said. “I’ve had thousands of employees over that time.”

Mills considered the theft big enough to warrant prosecution.

McCrae came to the company with good credentials, Mills said.

But she had a gambling problem.

“You see it all the time now,” he said, referring to recent cases of employees taking money from companies to support their gambling habit. “It’s becoming more prominent.”

“Unfortunately, it ruined her life,” he added.

The business owner described the theft as “one of the pitfalls of being in business for yourself.”

He said employee theft is a problem, especially in the grocery business.

Besides gambling, he blamed the economy. “People are distressed, and when they are distressed, they do not do smart things,” he said.

The company recovered most of the money through insurance, he said.

McCrae faces a maximum prison term of 15 years when sentenced March 19 by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com