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Pennsylvania fire chief faces 10 years in prison

It was reported on Aug. 28 that a Pennsylvania fire chief who was accused of stealing approximately $45,000 from the volunteer fire department for which he worked pleaded guilty to the associated federal charges. The 50-year-old man was facing additional state charges after he was accused of stealing from funds that were meant to cover some of the fire department's bills, but it was stated that these charges would be dropped as part of the plea agreement.

The report stated that Luzerne County and Wilkes-Barre Township, the jurisdiction where the man worked, each was given federal grants in the amount of $10,000 between 2008 and 2011. Additionally, the fire department was given $3,500 every month between in same time period by the township. Since the man was the fire chief, he was responsible for handling the checks and depositing them into the fire department's bank account. However, the authorities claimed that he only deposited a portion of the checks.

According to the man's plea agreement, he was required to plead guilty to stealing $45,000 and resign from the position of fire chief within 10 days of the plea bargain being entered, but he was still allowed to remain a member of the fire department. The chief is facing a 10-year prison sentence.

Those who are facing charges for fraud may potentially face a prison sentence and the requirement to pay a large amount in restitution. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, an attorney may be able to provide a defense for the defendant by either providing proof that the individual was not involved in the fraudulent activity or that he or she was unwillingly involved. Otherwise, the attorney could participate in plea bargain negotiations in order to reduce the severity of the possible consequences.

Source: Fire Chief, " Pa. fire chief pleads guilty to stealing $45K from fire dept.", Bob Kalinowski, August 28, 2014

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