Having worked in the library for three years, 38-year-old Winger resigned from his position in 2017, three months after being placed on administrative leave. It was later revealed that he had been using city credit cards to buy hundreds of Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play gift cards that were used for microtransactions in Game of War.
Like many other popular mobile titles, the MMO strategy game is free-to-play but pushes users into making in-app purchases, which include gold packs that range from $5 to $100. Despite average to poor reviews, the game was one of the highest-grossing apps of 2014 and 2015, when players spent an average of $550 per year on microtransactions.
Winger pleaded guilty in Utah’s 1st District Court in June, admitting to theft, which is a second-degree felony, and forgery, a third-degree felony. He was also charged with creating and altering invoices in order to conceal his actions.
This week, Winger was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 100 hours of community service. Part of his plea agreement involved paying restitution of $78,000, which he did by selling his house and clearing out his retirement fund. Paying back the money helped him avoid prison, according to The Herald Journal.
Additionally, the judge ordered Winger to write a 10-page report on the book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller.
This isn’t the first time someone has stolen from their employer to fund their Game of War addiction. In 2016, a man embezzled $4.8 million from caterpillar machinery distributor Holt over a seven-year period, blowing $1 million of it on the mobile game.