Defendant in fire company theft waives
SHAMOKIN - The former treasurer of West End Fire Company charged by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (LCE) with stealing more than $11,000 from the volunteer organization over a nearly two-year period waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning.
Frederick W. Wallish, 41, of 1212 Hemlock St., Coal Township, briefly consulted with his attorney Paige Rosini before deciding to send the case to the Court of Common Pleas in Sunbury.
Wallish told Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III he understood the ramifications of forfeiting his right to a hearing. Gembic then ordered the defendant to appear for plea court April 28 at Northumberland County Courthouse, at which time he can plead guilty or no contest, or seek a trial by pleading not guilty.
Rosini said she needed more time to review the case before advising her client to enter a plea or take the case to trial. She said the amount of restitution, which has not yet been made in the case, remains in question.
Wallish admitted stealing $2,000 from the fire company, but a forensic audit revealed the amount to be $11,775.25, LCE reported.
West End Fire Company President Irv Heim reserved comment when asked about Wallish's decision Tuesday.
Wallish, who claimed he was "borrowing" the money, turned himself over to authorities and was arraigned by Gembic Jan. 10. He is free on $10,000 unsecured bail.
The defendant resigned as treasurer of the fire company in August after admitting to the felony offense of theft filed by LCE Officer Daniel B. McDonald and Sgt. Jeffrey McGinness of the Williamsport office.
The defendant, who authorities said has been cooperative, is accused of stealing the money between Jan. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2013.
According to a criminal complaint, funds were discovered missing from the fire company during an Aug. 26, 2013, routine inspection by McDonald, who attempted to review financial records. McDonald reported income and expense records were not available and reportedly never recorded by Wallish as part of his treasurer duties.
At the conclusion of his inspection, McDonald questioned Heim and Wallish if they knew the fire company was making money or operating at a loss. Wallish told McDonald, "We have enough to pay the bills."
Wallish then told McDonald he "borrowed" approximately $2,000 over a two-year period and never paid it back. Questioned by McDonald about his financial situation at home, Wallish said he had recently been placed on disability and that his wife was losing hours at work. Wallish told McDonald the disability payments were made once a month and that he couldn't make "ends meet."