VFD Treasury Completely Plundered
THE CHAPMANVILLE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT in Venango County, Pennsylvania, has been shut down since November 2012. The Plum Township decertified the company as a fire protection provider after the department treasury was emptied and they couldn't pay their bills.
Yesterday (Monday) the VFD's treasurer Kimberly Keener, 41, was arrested at her home and charged with theft. The Titusville Herald reports today:
Keener assumed the position of treasurer at the beginning of February 2010. In this capacity, it was Keener’s responsibility to maintain the funds for the fire department; which includes paying bills and writing checks. She was also responsible for making deposits into the department’s checking account, along with basic day-to-day book keeping.
When Keener assumed the treasurer position, the investigation, conducted by the state Department of Auditor General Office of Special Investigations and the Franklin-based state police, found that the VFD’s general fund balance was $25,614.96. Today, the account has a zero balance. Police say the money is unaccounted for.
During the course of the investigation into the missing funds, it was found that Keener had misappropriated at least $25,316.66 from the VFD by writing checks payable to herself for $3,490; checks payable to her mother for $17,326.66; diverting a $4,000 check payable the fire department; and by distributing diverted Troy Township funds to her mother totaling $500.
Moreover, investigators say that Keener misappropriated at least $7,600 from the Relief Association by writing a check payable to her mother for $5,600, and a check to the fire department for $2,000.
Keener, who is also the wife of the fire chief, is being held in jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bond.
It all came unraveled back in October when the department ran out of money and couldn't pay its bills. The township supervisors advised the FD that they would decertify the department unless all the elected officers and the board of directors, a total of 12 people, resigned their offices by November 7. The officers were: Kevin Keener, chief; Kelly Keener, president; Keith Keener, assistant chief; Racheal Keener, vice president; Kristy Blake, secretary; and Kimberly Keener, treasurer.
By the deadline only four members had resigned and the supervisors went through with their promise and shut the department down and the investigation by the State Police got underway. Since then three more directors have resigned leaving five others still hanging on. Tellingly, all five of them are Keener family members.
On October 27, reporting on the upcoming hearing, Meadville Live listed some of the discrepancies that were being considered:
* Insurance coverage for trucks and fire station has lapsed due to non-payment.
* Dept Treasurer has allegedly failed to turn in required monthly reports to the supervisors.
* Dept. Treasurer has allegedly refused to allow anyone else to see the departments financial books.
* Dept Treasurer has allegedly used Relief Funds to pay non-approved bills.
* Some residents ordered food items from the department during a fund raiser and have never received the items.
* Fire Chief has allegedly failed to provide copies of training certifications of the fire dept. members.
At the Nov. 1 township meeting the supervisors ordered
the officers and board to resign, or the VFD would be decertified.
The township has been financially struck by having to pay fees to neighboring FD's whenever they run calls into the twp. With this arrest of Keener, they can now work aggressively to get the department up and running again.
The Titusville Herald continues:
A source close to the story told The Herald Monday that "we’re over the biggest hurdle we had." And, as a reorganization is likely near, there are questions about outfitting the new department with gear and funding.
"They (the former fire officials) still have the radios and things we need," the source said. "Nobody’s been in [the fire hall] in a long time."
The source told The Herald that the Chapmanville VFD Ladies Auxiliary has been paying insurance on the fire hall and the trucks, while Plum Township has been paying the fuel bills that keep heat in the building. Plum Township has also been paying surrounding fire departments for fire coverage in the absence of the Chapmanville department.
"We’re going to be starting a whole new fire department," said the source.
Read the entire article HERE.
See the Firegeezer earlier report on October 28 HERE.
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