Pinecroft firefighter gas card use draws Antis’ ire

BELLWOOD — Less than a week after Antis Township supervisors withheld an annual donation from a local fire department, a person with ties to the organization said the decision may have been spurred by theft.

A person with ties to the Pinecroft Volunteer Fire Depart­ment, who asked not to be named, said a member stole about $1,000 by using a department-owned gas card to make purchases.

That claim was confirmed Wednesday by Department President Guy Teeter.

Teeter said department officials noticed discrepancies when reviewing fuel statements, prompting an internal investigation.

That investigation led to a department member, who Teeter did not name. The member eventually admitted to illegally using the card and agreed to repay the stolen funds. Police were not contacted.

During his unspecified repayment period, that member will not be allowed to participate in fire department activities, Teeter said.

“He is currently under suspension,” Teeter said.

Teeter said the member provided a reason for illegally using the card. But Teeter would not disclose that reason Wednesday.

“The gentleman, he had some hardships in his family with some medical issues,” Teeter said. “That’s his personal business.”

The member has started to repay the stolen funds, and he will be allowed to resume his participation once they are paid in full, Teeter said.

“Sometimes you make a foolish decision,” Teeter said, explaining the member’s return will include a one-year probationary period.

Teeter said township officials were contacted about the unauthorized gas card use shortly after it was discovered.

On Wednesday, Township Manager Lucas Martsolf said he could not freely discuss the issue, but he provided a statement.

“We were made aware by company officials that impropriety had occurred and that it was being taken care of internally,” he said.

Martsolf also said that steps are being taken by township officials to ensure Pinecroft leaders are working to address the issue.

A letter sent by Supervisor Leo Matuszewski to Teeter provides some insight. The letter was supplied to the Mirror in response to a Right To Know request.

“Please be advised that our township manager has notified the board of supervisors of his last two discussions … with you in regards to the theft of funds within your company,” the letter reads.

In the letter, Matuszewski requested a list of documents from Pinecroft leaders.

The documents included a total dollar amount of the money stolen, among other items, including the member’s admission of guilt and information about the repayment plan.

Pinecroft Deputy Chief Steve Cunningham said department leaders have complied with those requests.

“I believe we are working cooperatively,” Cunningham said.

At a public meeting last week, township officials announced that an annual funding donation was being withheld from Pinecroft until an audit of its financial records is performed.

Teeter said Pinecroft officials will comply with the request.

“We are waiting for them to conduct their audit,” he said, explaining township officials are in charge of setting up the review.

In the meantime, the Pinecroft department will be fine without the donation funds, Teeter said.

Teeter said steps also have been taken to lessen the chance of a similar theft in the future.

As of early Wednesday evening, township officials had not yet approved or denied supplying other documents included in the Right To Know request.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.