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Probation likely for ex-Allenport fire department officials

Saturday, June 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Traci and Victor Fedrick acknowledged late last year that they stole thousands of dollars from the former Allenport Volunteer Fire Department.

But the former president and chief, respectively, differed with prosecutors on how much they took.

On Friday, the two sides agreed on a total: $11,143.03.

The couple contended Friday that $1,500 listed in an affidavit of probable cause was a legitimate expense, paid to the Renegade Wrestling Alliance to stage a show July 11, 2010, at the Allenport Fire Hall. The Fedricks produced a bill from Renegade.

The Fedricks and prosecutors settled on the amount as a restitution hearing loomed before Washington County Common Pleas Judge Katherine B. Emery.

Emery scheduled a sentencing hearing 2 p.m. Aug. 27.

The couple agreed to repay –over time – the money to Allenport's successor organization, the Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department.

In April, Allenport merged with the Stockdale department.

Washington County Assistant District Attorney Jerome Moschetta said the theft of money from the cash-strapped Allenport department played a role in the decision to merge.

But firefighter and Allenport Councilman Dennis Martinak called that “a misstatement.”

“We were in the process of merging long before that,” Martinak said. “We were having troubles trying to raise money, but (the Fedricks) had no bearing on the merger.

“We had no one showing up for fires. We always kicked around ways to make it better, and that was one of the reasons why.”

In December, the Fedricks pleaded guilty to reduced charges related to the thefts.

Traci Fedrick, 38, of 4 Center St., Allenport, 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.

Victor Fedrick, 42, 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.

While prosecutors said the Fedricks stole more than $13,000, the couple had 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 withdrawal.

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.

Alan Benyak, Traci Fedrick's attorney, called the agreement fair, saying the couple did not want to prolong the case.

“The Fedricks accept responsibility for their actions and are very remorseful,” Benyak said.

For the felony convictions, the sentences could range up to seven years probation for each conviction and up to 90 days in jail.

Public defender Leslie Ridge, representing Victor Fedrick, said her client is hopeful the judge will take into consideration that he acknowledged the amount of the thefts.

“I don't feel jail or electronic monitoring would serve the purpose of getting the money back,” Ridge said. “They would be spending money (on electronic monitors) that could and should be spent in giving back the money.”

While no recommendation on sentencing will be made by prosecutors, Moschetta said he expects probation sentences.

“They had no priors, they admitted guilt and will be paying back the money,” Moschetta said. “I think the judge will look into all of that.”

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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