Treasurer of fire company in Shamokin charged with theft
SHAMOKIN - The former treasurer of West End Fire Company has been 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.
Frederick W. Wallish, of 1212 Hemlock St., Coal Township, who turns 41 today, admitted stealing $2,000 from the fire company, but a forensic audit revealed the amount to be $11,775.25, LCE reported.
Wallish, who claimed he was "borrowing" the money, turned himself over to authorities and was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and released on $10,000 unsecured bail. He 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.
West End Fire Company President Irv Heim said Friday the incident is concerning.
"Everything we do in the fire company is based on trust, and to have one of our own officers steal $11,000 is very sad and disappointing," he said.
The fire company, one of five in the city, has been in existence for approximately 125 years.
Wallish is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before Gembic.
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."
McDonald then requested Heim and Wallish go through the entire procedure that is followed from the time money is entered into the cash register and deposited in a bank account.
After discovering some discrepancies in revenues and bank deposits made by Wallish, McDonald asked Heim if there was a reasonable explanation for the fire company to attempt to "hide" money, such as paying cash for entertainment, like a band.
Heim adamantly denied any such conduct, but didn't know where the money could have gone.
Couldn't make 'ends meet'
Wallish then told McDonald he "borrowed" approximately $2,000 over a two-year period and never paid it back. Heim also witnessed Wallish's confession, which was later put in writing: "When making bank deposits, I held back approximately $2,000 for personal use."
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."
McDonald said Wallish agreed to go to his home to retrieve financial records belonging to the fire company. He was accompanied by fire company trustee Jeff Thew, who also participated in the LCE inspection.
Audit finds more missing
McDonald instructed Heim to acquire fresh bank records that include accounts used for the small games of chance that the fire company operates, since Wallish would deposit those funds into an account at the same time he deposited money into the general fund account.
A forensic audit was requested by the fire company and performed by Klacik & Associates of Shamokin.
On Nov. 12, McDonald and McGinness met with Heim, Thew and Klacik & Associates manager and accountant Greg Wisloski, who informed the LCE and fire company officers that additional missing funds were uncovered during the audit that involved cash withdrawals and in-office transfers by Wallish.
Wisloski said the audit revealed a theft of $11,775.25.