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East McKeesport woman waives hearing on charges she stole youth football funds

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 4:56 a.m.

An East McKeesport woman waived her preliminary hearing on Thursday on charges that she stole more than $5,000 from the East Allegheny Youth Football Association.

April L. Simko, 33, remained free on her own recognizance pending a formal arraignment on May 8 at 1 p.m. in Pittsburgh.

Simko is charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and access device fraud in connection with alleged activity as treasurer of that association.

She did not have an attorney though she did discuss options with an assistant Allegheny County public defender.

“Do you understand what you are doing?” Forest Hills Magisterial District Judge Thomas P. Caulfield asked Simko during a brief appearance in a North Versailles Township courtroom.

Caulfield stepped in for Magisterial District Judge Robert L. Barner this week, while Barner went to Harrisburg for courses required for his recertification.

In a criminal complaint, Kevin P. Flanigan, a detective for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said East McKeesport police were told about Simko's alleged thefts.

The complaint said investigators found 46 unauthorized withdrawals from the association's account at PNC Bank in North Versailles totaling approximately $5,740, including $141.49 in movie video rentals and a hotel stay in Georgia.

The complaint quoted Simko as saying she was caught in a jam and needed money.

Simko also was quoted as saying she gave receipts to association president William Smith and made a partial repayment of $150.

“I am going to pay back every penny,” the complaint said Simko promised in a text to Smith.

In a January interview with Flanigan and Detective Patricia Parker, also of Zappala's office, Simko was quoted as saying she tapped the association's account to deal with medical problems and because her car was falling apart.

Simko declined comment about the case after her appearance before Caulfield. However, she said she had not been arrested, contrary to a published account.

A Daily News report last week on charges filed against Simko quoted a spokesman for Zappala, who said Simko surrendered to authorities on March 13, then was released on her own recognizance after an arraignment before Barner.

East Allegheny Youth Football Association is involved in Flag, Termite, Mighty Mites and Midget football and cheerleading activity in the East Allegheny School District municipalities of East McKeesport, North Versailles Township, Wall and Wilmerding.

Its teams share the Wildcat nickname with East Allegheny High School's football team. Association teams practice at Park Terrace Field and play games at the high school's Churchman Stadium.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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