Former fire official waives hearing in alleged theft

Walter accused of taking $7,500 from Newburg

The former president of the Newburg Fire Association waived his preliminary hearing Thursday on charges that he stole $10,500 from the club.

The case against James J. Walter, 54, Altoona, goes to Blair County Court.

Walter is accused of taking $7,500 from the club’s PA Skills machine revenue and $3,000 meant for the purchase of portable tables, between January and June 2021, according to an affidavit filed by Logan Township police.

Walter, who resigned as association president in July, is charged with theft and receiving stolen property — both felonies — and is free on unsecured $25,000 bail.

Walter is no longer even a member of the association, according to current association President Matt Clinger, who was at Magisterial District Judge Matthew Dunio’s office Thursday.

Walter was part of a new leadership team in the association that arose out of a dispute that dated to 2017, according to Clinger.

The dispute arose when association leadership tried to resolve Liquor Control Enforcement citations connected with violations of the association’s bylaws.

Those actions included elimination of some firefighters’ voting rights because they had been classified as social members of the association.

That alienated some firefighters, leading the volunteer fire department to sue the Firemen’s Club, which ran the association’s social hall, according to Clinger.

Despite Walter’s alleged theft, the two sides are in harmony now, according to Clinger.

“Any prior internal organizational issues have been resolved,” stated a joint press release from the association. “The Fireman’s Club and Fire Department are working together to eagerly serve the community.”

New members are welcome and the social hall “is fully open for business,” the press release states.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.


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