"Moving Out So That Others Can Move Up …."
THE NOW-FORMER TREASURER of the Hershey (Pennsylvania) Volunteer Fire Department was arrested today (Friday) and charged with stealing over $128,000 from the department.
Thaddeus Lee Austin, 30, began his life of crime in January 2012 immediately after taking office and continued until March of this year when his activities were exposed.
The Derry Township Police issued the following statement this morning: On March 6, 2013, a member of the Hershey Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) contacted the Derry Township Police Department to report a theft of funds from the organization’s financial accounts.
Bank investigators alerted the HVFD President in March that unusual activity with the Fire Department’s accounts was detected. The president then immediately confronted the department treasurer about the activity and also notified police.
A subsequent forensic audit of the accounts revealed that department treasurer THADDEUS LEE AUSTIN, age 30 of Hershey, began extracting funds for personal use shortly after being elected to the treasurer position in January 2012. Evidence suggests that AUSTIN wrote organization checks to himself as well as opened a personal debit card account and also manipulated services for personal benefit from department vendors. It was also determined that AUSTIN satisfied several personal debts and opened new credit accounts for himself during this period.
The loss totals $129,863.67.
The bank reports that written notification of the suspicious activity was previously sent to the fire department prior to March; however, it was determined that AUSTIN received and concealed these notifications from organization leaders.
Hershey Volunteer Fire Company President Dave Stough said after Austin was confronted about the allegations he resigned and then the next day was expelled from the fire company.
Stough said the board of supervisors also was notified.
"We would like to ensure the public that we have taken steps to secure our finances, and have implemented, and will continue to implement, more stringent financial controls. In the past, we have been a close-knit organization and extended trust to our officers as our brothers.
"We are fully insured for this loss, and will be working with our carrier to recover the missing sums in the near-term. We thank the community for their continued support or our operations and fund raising efforts."
AUSTIN was arraigned before District Justice Dominic Pelino on May 10th, 2013 having been charged by the Derry Township Police Criminal Investigation Unit with Theft by Deception and Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds Received. He was remanded to Dauphin County Prison upon failing to post the $60,000 bail levied on him.
Hershey Fire Department WEBSITE.
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