ShareThis Page
News

Turkeytown firefighter faces charges

Paul Peirce
| Monday, May 14, 2012, 12:23 a.m.

A former treasurer of a South Huntingdon Township fire department was charged Monday with stealing more than $90,000 over the last four years, most of it proceeds from weekly bingo games at the volunteer company.

John Sarosi Jr., 57, of Oak Street, Yukon, former treasurer of the Turkeytown Volunteer Fire Department, was arraigned before Scottdale District Justice J. Bruce King on multiple counts of theft, receiving stolen property and forgery. Sarosi was committed to the Westmoreland County Prison on $50,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing April 11 before King.

Sarosi was treasurer of the fire department from 1998 until Sept. 30, 2001, when he was suspended after the thefts were discovered.

According to the arrest affidavit filed by county Detective William Brown, Sarosi admitted during an Oct. 2 interview with Brown and Detective Frank Galilei that he had spent the money to pay gambling debts as well as his everyday living expenses. Sarosi, who was unemployed, lives with his wife and mother.

Facing charges
John Sarosi Jr. is among a number of emergency service personnel in western Pennsylvania recently charged with stealing money from volunteer fire department accounts.

  • Former Latrobe Goodwill Hose Co. No. 1 social club treasurer Edward A. Newcomer Sr., 41, of 182 Lemmons Road, Latrobe, was charged in March with taking $37,304 in funds from the social club's coffers from 1997-99;

  • Former firefighter Jeffrey Hall, 46, of 115 Fifth St., Jeannette, was charged last fall with taking $3,500 in bingo proceeds from the Grandview Fire Department in Penn Township;

  • In September, former firefighter John K. Bycura of the Baldwin Independent Fire Co. No. 1 in Allegheny County pleaded guilty to bilking more than $73,245 from the department to pay personal bills;

  • Last October, former Braddock fire Chief Tom Petrovic, 46, and his brother, Robert, 52, also a fireman, were charged with skimming $24,000 from the Allegheny County department's bingo game receipts between 1999-2000;

  • In June, Michael J. Luke, 23, of Manor, a former Irwin ambulance attendant, was charged with stealing $4,000 from the Irwin Volunteer Fire Department's donation box;

  • Last year, the Baggaley Volunteer Fire Department in Unity Township declared bankruptcy and closed after numerous financial problems, including theft from accounts. In 1999, the department's former treasurer, Terry E. Simms of Hostetter, pleaded guilty to taking $11,000 in department funds.
  • "I used some of the money to pay bills and just for other things. I also have a gambling problem, and I do have it under control at the present time and will keep it that way," Sarosi told Brown and Galilei during the interview.

    "I am very sorry, and I will work out any payment plan that can be set up," he said.

    Sarosi also volunteered to write out a statement to detectives. In the statement, Sarosi estimated the thefts amounted to approximately $10,000.

    "I did have plans to pay this money back but just was not able at this time. I have made myself sick to the point I cannot sleep at night," he told detectives in the statement.

    After writing the statement admitting the thefts to police, Brown reported that Sarosi told him, "I'm glad it's over with <#201> I feel relieved."

    Brown alleges that between January 2001 and Sept. 30, when Sarosi was suspended, he failed to deposit $40,122 raised during the fire department's weekly Friday evening bingo games. The amount was determined after an audit.

    Also, Brown alleges between February 1998 through September 2001 Sarosi issued numerous checks from the fire department's bank account payable to "cash" or himself in the amount of $19,643. Detectives also allege that Sarosi diverted another $30,942 to himself from a special credit line account the company maintained for equipment purchases at National City Bank in Smithton.

    Detectives alleged that Sarosi forged the name of fire Chief Lawrence J. Nemec Jr. on checks written from a credit account. Those checks required the signature of two fire department officers.

    Attempts to reach Nemec for comment yesterday were unsuccessful. However, after Sarosi was suspended last fall, Nemec said that although the fire department was shaken by the thefts, it remains fiscally sound.

    Nemec also said the fire department implemented improved accounting methods after the thefts were discovered.

    The fire department, located along Route 31 between Ruffsdale and West Newton, was founded in 1972 and has about 30 active members. Sarosi had been a firefighter for approximately 10 years prior to his suspension.

    TribLIVE commenting policy

    You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

    We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

    While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

    We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

    We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

    We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

    We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

    We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

    click me