Town Shuts Down VFD
APPOINTED IN AUGUST, ARRESTED IN DECEMBER. Gina Tombasco, 30, was charged Monday with five felony counts of stealing more than $30,000 from the Independance Fire & Rescue Co. 1 in Rice Township.
The Citizens Voice reports:
Tombasco, a firefighter who joined the department in June when her brother Kevin Tombasco was named chief, is accused of writing checks to herself and using debit cards to steal from the department since August.
“This came through just from people being very suspicious of activity on the bank account and the checking account,” said Luzerne County Detective Chaz Balogh, who investigated the case along with Rice Township police. Investigators learned that two loans were taken out, and that’s where a lot of the money came from. … She was spending the money as she felt, as needed.”
Tombasco declined to comment as police led her into court in handcuffs. She told Magisterial District Judge James M. Dixon that she is currently unemployed and on disability for a mental condition. She choked back tears as she answered the judge’s questions. Dixon sent her to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with bail set at $30,000 and a preliminary hearing set for Dec. 18 at 10 a.m.
This was the second time this year that an officer of the department has been charged with stealing from the FD's bank account. Again from the Citizens Voice:
Former acting treasurer Donald Leo Bly, 32, of 224 Cherrywood Drive, was charged in March with theft for writing $4,400 in checks for equipment the department never received.
He was sentenced in September to pay more than $1,600 in fines and restitution and to spend six months in the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, which could allow his record to be expunged.
At the time, the department was known as the Rice Township Volunteer Fire Department. In June, the department was stripped of its certification by the local government. Now known as the Independence Fire & Rescue Company No. 1, the department remains on-call in Butler Township, Conyngham, Dennison Township, Fairview Township, Laurel Run and Newport Township, but all the communities have removed them from their mutual aid agreements and they are not getting called out at all to any emergencies.
It was after the department was decertified that Tombasco moved in and started looting the treasury.
Read the full reports from the Citizens Voice here: http://citizensvoice.com/news/former-secretary-charged-with-stealing-from-mountain-top-fire-company-1.1598068 and here: http://citizensvoice.com/news/independence-fire-operates-without-support-1.1587318 .
WNEP-TV has the video report:
Hat tip: Chris Mooney.
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