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Hearing to determine how much Washington County fire officials stole from department

| Thursday, June 13, 2013, 1:16 a.m.

In December, the former chief and president of the Allenport Fire Department pleaded guilty to reduced charges related to money stolen from the agency.

Six months later, the fire department doesn't exist, but the case still does.

A restitution hearing will take place 10 a.m. Friday before Washington County Common Pleas Judge Katherine B. Emery because the respective sides can't agree on how much money was taken.

Traci Fedrick, 38, of 4 Center St., Allenport, the former department president, pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to single counts of theft and conspiracy to commit theft and two of the nearly 160 counts she had faced for misappropriation of department money.

She had faced 81 counts each of access device fraud and criminal conspiracy to commit fraud and 26 counts each of theft by unlawful taking or disposition and receiving stolen property.

Her husband, Victor Fedrick, 42, the former chief, pleaded guilty to theft, receiving stolen property, access device fraud and criminal conspiracy.

He had faced 81 counts of access-device fraud and 26 counts each of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy to commit theft.

Alan Benyak, Traci Fedrick's attorney, said prosecutors must lay a foundation to show what money is not accounted for and prove who took the money.

“Certainly, there is an issue on what Traci and her husband took,” Benyak said.

Benyak wondered if prosecutors can differentiate between legitimate and nonlegitimate expenditures involving the Fedricks.

While prosecutors say the Fedricks stole more than $13,000, the couple has contended much of the money was used for legitimate expenses.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, RESA police were contacted by fire department members about discrepancies in an account at the Mon Valley Federal Credit Union in Allenport. Police claim that from May 5, 2010, through Dec. 6, 2010, the couple withdrew about $9,210 from the account.

Police said two signatures were needed to withdraw money and that the Fedricks' signatures were used on each of the withdrawals.

The affidavit stated that none of the cash withdrawn was used for fire company business.

In addition, a fuel card issued through Guttman Oil Co. for fire department vehicles was used 81 times from Jan. 4, 2011, through Oct. 31, 2011, at stores in Speers, Rostraver Township and West Mifflin. The total of the purchases — all for gasoline — was $4,266.46, according to the affidavit. Fire department vehicles use diesel fuel.

The financially strapped Allenport Fire Department recently merged with the neighboring Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department.

Victor Fedrick entered an “open plea,” meaning prosecutors, at the time, made no recommendation on sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Jerome Moschetta said.

Moschetta said his office will make a sentencing recommendation during that phase of the case.

Moschetta said if prosecutors can prove the Fedricks stole more than $2,000, a standard sentence could range from probation to nine months in jail.

For a misdemeanor, the sentencing guidelines would be probation to one month in jail.

Former Allenport fire officials will be key witnesses in determining how much was taken, Moschetta said.

Moschetta said prosecutors are standing behind allegations in the affidavit.

“Their contention was that some of the money was used for legitimate fire department uses,” Moschetta said.

“Because we could not come to an agreement, we're going to have a hearing.”

Moschetta said he expects Emery to make a ruling and impose sentence at a later date.

“The one thing we could agree on is that they are guilty,” Moschetta said. “The one thing we couldn't agree on is for how much.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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