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Ex-financial secretary of Pa. VFD’s carnival accused of stealing over $7K from group

Former Cambridge Springs Volunteer Fire Department Chief Christian French faces 18 charges


Photo/Cambridge Springs Fire/Rescue

Keith Gushard
The Meadville Tribune

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS, Pa. — Cambridge Springs Police have charged the former financial secretary of the Cambridge Springs Firemen’s Carnival with stealing more than $7,000 from the organization during a five-year period.

Christian French, 47, of Cambridge Springs, faces a preliminary hearing next month on a total of 18 charges for allegedly taking money from the Cambridge Springs Volunteer Fire Department’s carnival account.

The criminal complaint and arrest affidavit alleges French made $7,243.37 in debit card transactions for his own benefit. He is accused of taking $1,100.02 via debit card in 2017; $4,049.15 in 2018; $486.49 in 2019; $49.07 in 2020; and $1,558.64 in 2021. French was the carnival’s financial secretary at the time, the affidavit said. He is also a past chief of the fire department.

Cambridge Springs Police Department filed charges Sept. 21 following the fire department’s receipt of a forensic audit of the carnival’s finances.

The fire department first contacted borough police in April about unauthorized transactions using the carnival account’s debit card which had been issued to French, the affidavit said.

On March 17, the fire department’s board of directors confronted French about the unauthorized transactions and French admitted to making them, the affidavit said. French’s membership with the fire department was terminated at that point, the affidavit said.

The fire department then had HBK Valuation Group LLC conduct a forensic audit of the account, which was completed Aug. 23, the affidavit said.

French was interviewed by Cambridge Springs police on Sept. 15 and he admitted to making the unauthorized transactions on the account, the affidavit said.

French was arraigned last week before Magisterial District Judge Lincoln Zilhaver on a total of 18 counts — two counts each of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft by deception, all third-degree felonies; and four counts each of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft by deception, all first-degree misdemeanors.

French was released on nonmonetary bond following arraignment. He faces a preliminary hearing before Zilhaver on the charges Oct. 5.


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