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Charges dropped against ex-Forward tax collector

| Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, 3:16 a.m.

Charges of failure to turn over tax records were dismissed on Monday against Forward Township's former tax collector.

The office of Magisterial District Judge Beth S. Mills said the township withdrew charges against Christine Martin Loughner, 55, on Monday prior to a scheduled preliminary hearing.

The township filed a private complaint against Loughner on Feb. 5 alleging that her action “impairs the availability of tax collection letters” by her successor, William R. Firczak.

A township police officer said in an affidavit that Loughner intentionally and unlawfully refused to return the records despite repeated requests.

Township officials said she was supposed to turn over the records by Jan. 15. Tom DeRosa, chairman of the township board of supervisors, said this month that the records would be subject to an audit normally held in the spring, but is needed sooner because of the transfer of office to Firczak.

Loughner was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. The judge's office said there was a discussion at her courtroom in which Mills was not a participant before the count was withdrawn.

Loughner and township officials, including Solicitor Matt Racunas, could not be reached for comment at presstime.

The charges in the township did not affect the Elizabeth Forward School District, where Loughner was required to turn over delinquent tax records to Keystone Collections Group.

District director of finance and operations Richard Fantauzzi confirmed that Loughner turned over the records of unpaid tax bills, but declined further comment.

Fantauzzi said Loughner always turned over the delinquent tax records in past years.

According to the Allegheny County Elections Division, Loughner ran unopposed for tax collector in 2009. She received 122 votes in the Democratic primary and 288 in the general election.

She was unopposed for Democratic renomination in 2013 and received 36 votes in the primary. Firczak received 12 write-ins to win the Republican nomination.

Firczak won in November, 340-118.

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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