Official charged with embezzling $26K from fire company relief fund
Police say the treasurer of the fire company's relief association stole the funds through more than 100 cash withdrawals
Erie Times-News, Pa.
LAKE CITY, Pa. — Borough police charge that the treasurer of the Lake City Fire Company Relief Association stole more than $26,000 from the association in cash withdrawals and bar/restaurant bills.
Phillip J. Blose, 35, is tentatively scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 21 for his preliminary hearing on felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property, access device fraud and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities that the Lake City Police Department filed against him on Friday. Blose is free on $25,000 unsecured bond following his arraignment on the charges on Friday afternoon.
Lake City Fire Company officials said in a statement posted on the department's Facebook page on Saturday that they are working with investigators to resolve the matter and will release a statement later.
Lake City police charge in Blose's criminal complaint that he used the relief association's debit card to make 100 cash withdrawals ranging from $62 to $550 that totaled $26,341.25; and made three other transactions totaling $166.25 at a bar/restaurant in Lake City. The transactions occurred between April 16 and Jan. 6, Lake City Police Chief David Wierzchowski wrote in the affidavit of probable cause filed with the complaint.
The chief also wrote that Blose said he started to use the ATM card for her personal use without permission about a year ago and was using the money for rent, gas and electric bills, along with living expenses and recreational activities.
Volunteer fire department relief associations are funded from a 2% tax on fire insurance policies that out-of-state companies sell in Pennsylvania, according to online information posted by the Pennsylvania Department of Auditor General, which distributes the state aid and audits the relief association.
The money is earmarked for training, equipment purchasing and insurance, and pay for death benefits for volunteer firefighters, according to the Auditor General's Office.
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