City Employee who Embezzled Money Blames Painkiller Addiction

The Stamford, Connecticut city employee accused of using a housing code enforcement association account to pay for personal items and utility bills told police she was addicted to painkillers, calling the past 18 months a "living hell," court records show.

Wendy Greco, 40, is charged with first-degree larceny, a serious felony. Authorities say she stole more than $16,000 from the housing code enforcement association for which she served as a treasurer, her arrest warrant affidavit shows. She was arrested Feb. 23.

Greco was arraigned Tuesday at state Superior Court in Stamford, appearing with a public defender. She declined to speak with reporters after the court proceeding.

The embezzlement was reported to police by Ronald Miller, president of the Connecticut Association of Housing Code Enforcement Officials.

Miller is a city health inspector who worked alongside Greco in the health department at the government center on Washington Boulevard. Greco was an office support specialist.
Court records show Miller called police on Jan. 26 and told them he suspected Greco was responsible for stealing from the association’s checking account. A few days before, Greco sent text messages telling Miller she was entering a substance abuse treatment facility because of a painkiller addiction.

Miller told police he noticed funds were missing from his association’s checking account when he checked unopened bank statements left on Greco’s desk.

The statements detailed unauthorized purchases and withdrawals in summer 2009, and only he and Greco had debit cards linked to the checking account.

That spurred Miller to obtain bank statements from the checking account between April 2009 and January 2010 and submit them to Stamford police.

Police Officer Richard Pompa, a property crimes investigator, determined Greco made nearly 85 transactions worth $16,353, using association funds for pay for car and phone bills and for purchases at several stores, gas stations and restaurants, records show.
She also allegedly made several online purchases from a pharmacy website.

Greco was interviewed at the Stamford Police Department on Feb. 11 and admitted using the missing funds to pay for personal items and more painkillers, calling it a "spending spree." She told police she had back problems that led to a painkiller dependency 18 months ago. Her addiction caused her to fall behind on her mortgage and car payments, court documents allege. She allegedly used money from the association’s checking account to "keep up financially."

Greco told police her daily use of painkillers was about 15 to 20 pills.

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.