The Feasterville Volunteer Firefighter’s Relief Association fell under the microscope of the Auditor General in 2015 to determine where state aid between Jan. 2011 and Dec. 2013 was going.
Brian Walter, 33, of Feasterville was charged in Feb. 2017 with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, and three counts of tampering with public records. Walter, a Lower Southampton officer since 2007, faces those third-degree felonies and several related misdemeanor charges.
Walter wrote seven unauthorized checks for loans, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 to benefit himself and others. The total was more than $51,000 which paid for a Wave Runner, credit card debt, two weddings, being his and his brothers, tuition bills, a down payment on a house, and one member’s rent.
While the funds are from the state, Lower Southampton Township is required to perform an annual audit of the Feasterville VFRA township’s money. Lower South Manager John McMenamin said he hopes the firehouse can eventually move on but was disappointed with how the results of a recent vote within the department.
“That casts a bad light on them,” McMenamin said. “I believe they will be watched very closely by a lot of people, and they put themselves in that situation.”
According to a grand jury presentment, Walter allegedly manipulated documents to conceal transactions and legitimatize the loans.
“Everyone was stretched a little too thin,” Defense Attorney Louis Busico said in late Feb. at the preliminary hearing. “But he (Walter) was giving of himself.”
Walter held three positions, vice president, treasurer, and secretary, on the VFRA executive board, a factor as to why he stands alone in the charges. Walter allegedly, “used this concentrated power to treat the VFRA funds as his own personal property,” the presentment read.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber handling the prosecution sees the possible determinant to the rest of the firehouse, besides the select few Walter chose, deemed a “secret society” by the grand jury.
The funds the VFRA receives is a part of several thousand associations across Pennsylvania. The Auditor General distributes millions in tax revenues from out-of-state insurance companies. The loans for a VFRA are under a restricted statue and not to be used for individual use.
“He was not told to read a handbook for the volunteer position,” Busico said of Walter.
All of the charges are related strictly to Walter’s involvement with the VFRA, not his role as a township police officer. The trial meant to be begin Monday has been postponed.