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Bullskin supervisors reimburse township for car allowances in ethics agreement

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Monday, March 17, 2014, 11:27 a.m.
 

Two supervisors and a former supervisor in Bullskin, awaiting trail for voter fraud, each recently paid $4,000 to reimburse the township for incorrectly collecting a monthly vehicle allowance, the state ethics commission said on Monday morning.

Former supervisor William H. Geary, 62, and supervisors Walter “Deb” Wiltrout, 67, and Thomas Keefer, 58, made the payments in October under a consent agreement with the commission, it said.

Under the agreement, none of the three admitted any wrongdoing.

Each reimbursed the township $3,000, plus agreed to pay $1,000 to the commission for costs incurred with its investigation, according to the state commission.

“No comment. You will have to speak to our attorney, Don McCue,” Thomas Keefer said on Monday when reached at the township office for comment. McCue, the township solicitor, did not recall telephone calls seeking comment.

Geary, who did not seek re-election last year, could not be reached for comment.

Geary, Wiltrout and Keefer were accused of election fraud violations on the recommendation of a county investigative grand jury. They waived their rights to a preliminary hearing in December.

In the ethics case, the commission said, the men set monthly vehicle allowances under their capacity as roadmasters after the township's board of auditors abolished the payments in 2012, an alleged violation of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act.

In addition to the monthly $250, the commission noted that supervisors also collected a per-mile reimbursement from the township when using their personal vehicles. The commission said supervisors were reimbursed at the federal Internal Revenue Service rate of 55 cents per mile in 2012 when the dispute arose between the board of auditors and supervisors over the reimbursement.

Shortly after auditors ended the monthly vehicle allowance on Jan. 4, 2012, the commission disclosed the supervisors voted 3-0 at a meeting Jan. 25, 2012, “to continue the longstanding practice of paying the township supervisors/roadmasters the sum of $250 rather than incurring the cost of buying vehicles for the township supervisor/roadmasters.”

Supervisors told the agency that they passed the resolution on the advixe of township solicitor Don McCue of Connellsville, who concluded after an investigation “that the township auditors did not have the authority to change the rate established for (supervisors) using personal vehicles while on township business.”

McCue received a concurring opinion from the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, the commission said.

It found that none of the three violated state law by collecting mileage reimbursement and lodging expenses to attend a conference of the state association.

The 19-page rulings in each case noted that each of them submitted $4,000 payments to the commission last October, ending the inquiry.

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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