Local/State

Former Upper Gwynedd fire official stole nearly $250,000, DA says

Friday, August 23, 2013

A former fire department official from Upper Gwynedd Township, Montgomery County is accused of stealing nearly $250,000 from the department.

Ronald Kenneth "Ken" Nolan, 62, had served as the treasurer of the Upper Gwynedd Township Fire Company for 24 years until he was voted out in December, 2012.

District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said the new treasurer began to examine the fire company's finances and found some irregularities.

Through an audit and criminal investigation, authorities found that, between 2006 and 2012, Nolan allegedly stole $249,703.77 from the department.

According to investigators, Nolan took cash advances from the fire department's bank account and used credit cards linked to the fire departments account.

Nolan allegedly spent the money on jewelry, computers, clothing, sporting events and vacations to Miami, Reno, Jamaica, China and Las Vegas, Ferman said.

He also allegedly used the money to pay for his daughter's 2006 wedding in Las Vegas, including airfare for wedding guests.

It's money that could have been used to buy additional safety gear and training.

"That is such a gross betrayal. And I think, a case like this, if these allegations are proven to be true, I believe this man endangered the lives of fellow firefighters," said Ferman.

Nolan had nothing to say when he surrendered on Friday to theft and fraud charges. His lawyer, Timothy Woodward, said his client has confessed and is deeply remorseful.

"He knows that he hurt the people that trusted him the most. So, he is absolutely remorseful," said Woodward. "We don't know why it happened and we will have an explanation at the proper time."

The fire company published a statement on its website saying its insurance will cover the loss.

Ferman said that is not enough. She wants Nolan to pay out of his own pocket.

As it turns out, the audit stopped at nearly $250,000 because that is the amount covered by insurance. Detectives will continue digging over his entire 24 years as treasurer.

"The notion that they would stop counting in an audit was somewhat perplexing to me. I would think you would want to know the full amount of the theft and, as district attorney, I certainly want to know the full amount of the theft," Ferman said.

Nolan's lawyer said his client will be working two jobs to make full restitution. But that may be difficult if he gets the kind of jail time the D.A. is seeking.

Nolan now free after posting 10 percent of $100,000 bail.

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pennsylvania news, montgomery county news, theft, fraud, local/state
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