Ex-Ford City official to stand trial in theft case

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

KITTANNING — A former Ford City official accused of stealing items from the Armstrong County Firemens Association is headed for trial after denying any wrongdoing during plea court on Thursday.

Christopher Zionkowski, 24, of 414 O'Connor St., appeared in court before President Judge Kenneth Valasek on a felony theft charge.

He was arrested in October of last year for allegedly stealing three tables and 25 chairs, valued at $820, from the Association in August 2010.

Ziokowski is a former trustee of the group and also is a former president of the Ford City Borough Sewage Authority.

When Valasek asked Zionkowski during plea court if he had returned the tables and chairs to the Association, Zionkowski said he had not.

“What did you do with them?” asked Valasek.

“I don't know,” said Zionkowski.

After Valasek asked him to explain himself, Zionkowski said he was “willing to pay everything and let this drop.”

According to the affidavit, a woman who had been working at the Association witnessed Zionkowski load the tables and chairs into a pickup.

Zionkowski told Valasek that he lent the items out to a party but denied loading them into a pickup.

Valasek told Zionkowski's public defender James Wray that he would not accept a plea.

“He's not taking responsibility. I'm not accepting a plea,” said Valasek. “He's going to have to go to trial.”

However, Valasek said he would accept a plea at a later date if Zionkowski accepted responsibility for his actions.

Zionkowski was sentenced in January on theft charges for stealing cash from Ford City Hose Co. 1 and was sentenced to two years probation.

Brigid Beatty can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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