Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan says John Whalen, who had worked for the city for about four decades, was escorted from City Hall in November after investigators concluded he may have stolen thousands of dollars.

The 71-year-old Whalen today was charged with second-degree grand larceny, a felony. He's accused of taking more than $50,000 over a period of several years.

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program, Ryan said: "It's a sad day because you want to have trust in your department heads."

Ryan noted Whalen is "kind of like an icon around here."

According to records released by City Hall, Whalen first was a recreation leader in what was a temporary position starting in January 1971. He then served several years as a recreation supervisor before first becoming Director of Recreation in March 1979. He briefly was made deputy commissioner of the department before being reinstated as the director.

Whalen's employment with the city ended on November 27, 2012, according to the records.

Ryan said: "A lot of people liked Mokie," referring to Whalen by his well-known nickname.

The mayor said if Whalen's guilty of the allegations, he's "broken the public trust and he'll rightfully be prosecuted."

What happened to the funds investigators believe was stolen? Ryan said "we have some ideas of where the money went but I really can't discuss the details."

The mayor said no one else has been implicated in the investigation, which has been conducted by the Broome County District Attorney's office with assistance from city police.

Ryan said of the accusations: "It hurts. You've worked with somebody for years and you want to be able to trust people. You think your department heads would be above this."

But the mayor noted this isn't the first time city government employees have been accused of stealing public money since he took office.

Ryan said anyone caught stealing will be prosecuted, although it's a "painful thing to do."

The mayor said no other current or former Binghamton city government workers are under investigation.