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Former Nemacolin Country Club manager charged with stealing $529K

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 12:27 p.m.
Brian Simon of Canonsburg, the former manager of Nemacolin Country Club in Washington County, is accused of stealing $529,000.

The former manager of Nemacolin Country Club in Washington County was charged on Wednesday with theft and forgery for allegedly stealing $529,647 from his employer during a six-year period.

Brian Simon, 35, of Canonsburg was charged by state police in Belle Vernon with theft, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, forgery, identity theft and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity in connection with the thefts that began in 2007.

Simon had been awaiting trial for stealing $16,000 from a Canon-McMillan School District PTA group.

Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone said Simon was employed as the manager of the Beallsville club when he had checks written to various fictitious entities, endorsed them and deposited them in his own bank account.

Trooper James Petrosky of the Belle Vernon barracks alleges that Simon wrote checks to legitimate vendors during the six-year period, forged their signatures and deposited the checks into his personal bank account.

A person who answered the telephone at the club yesterday declined to comment.

In May, Canonsburg police charged Simon, former treasurer of the South Central Elementary School PTA, with stealing $16,386 between Oct. 27 and April 18.

Petrosky said the country club theft was uncovered last spring, about the same time Canonsburg police were investigating the thefts from the PTA group.

The country club hired Andrew Richards, a former Postal Inspection Service inspector, to audit its records “to investigate the loss of revenue that the club was experiencing.”

Petrosky said Simon had control over the club's kitchen and dining areas, the lounge, meeting rooms, administration and golf course.

Petrosky reported in the affidavit of probable cause that “Simon would create fictitious reasons to receive reimbursement and cause a check to be issued.”

Simon cashed 109 checks totaling $254,997 using this method, investigators say.

Petrosky alleges Simon would present fraudulent invoices to the club billing secretary for payment.

“On selected items, Simon would go to an Internet site which sold items, such as for kitchenware, and he would create a listing of products to buy,” Petrosky said in the affidavit.

Instead of completing the purchase on the website, Petrosky alleges, “Simon would print out a copy of the invoice and present it to (the billing clerk) for payment. Simon utilized the identity of a fictitious person, Hubert Smith, to negotiate 85 checks totalling $161,919. ... Simon then took these checks, endorsed them and deposited them into his account at PNC Bank.”

Petrosky has a recorded interview between Richards and Simon in which Simon admits to the thefts, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

“I can't discuss right now how (Simon) spent the money,” Vittone said.

Simon was ordered held in the county jail after failing to post $529,647 bond set by West Brownsville District Judge Joshua Kanalis.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled Jan. 24 before Kanalis.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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