Facing accusations that he misappropriated large sums of money from his office, Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Stephen M. Lukach Jr. is expected to resign today.
Lukach, who has yet to be charged, may come into the office for the first time since April 8 to retrieve personal belongings, said county District Attorney Christine Holman.
Lukach, a Rush Township Democrat who has held the office for 27 years, has an unlisted home telephone number, and could not be reached for comment.
Holman spoke in the hallway outside the clerk's office Wednesday as state police and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, armed with a federal warrant, searched Lukach's office, tucked away behind two sets of doors.
At about noon, after three hours of searching, the troopers and agents used hand trolleys to haul out several large cardboard boxes of documents, computers and other items.
The search warrant, said Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Thomas A. Marakovits of the FBI's Allentown office, will remain sealed until the investigation is completed.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is overseeing the investigation, Marakovits said.
Meanwhile, the clerk's office, which handles criminal court documents, remained open for business.
A uniformed sheriff's deputy was in the office, but there was no indication, save a group of television cameramen and reporters in the hallway outside, that anything unusual was going on.
Holman, and later First Assistant District Attorney Maria Casey, spoke to reporters outside the office.
She said she had not seen the warrant, but that it allowed the seizure of "computers, any type of documentation that deals with the bail account and the automation fund."
The automation fund is an account consisting of criminal court monies, designated to be used to improve technology in the clerk's office.
Searchers were challenged by a locked office door, and a locked desk in Lukach's office. At one point, a county maintenance worker carried a hammer and another tool into the office.
"If those areas are within the warrant, they will do what they have to do to open any drawers or doors," Holman said.
Holman said she would not comment on how much money Lukach is accused of misappropriating, but did say that "we are talking large sums of money."
County Controller Christy D. Joy said that $9,050 in cash and a $1,000 check have been missing from the bail account.
"On April 8, the last day that Steve was in the office, bail money was there to be deposited,"Joy said.
He had advised Lukach that it would be easier to take the money across the hall to the treasurer's office to be deposited.
"And that's what he was doing," Joy said. "But the treasurer never got it."
Joy said both he and Commissioner George F. Halcovage Jr. called the bank, which confirmedthe money was never deposited.
The money, Joy said, was kept in a locked filing cabinet behind a vault door in the clerk's office, the key hanging next to it.
In addition to the U.S. Attorney General, state and county authorities are also investigating the irregularities, which were discovered by Joy as he reviewed the office's records. Holman said she has also looked at checks dating to 2008.
According to Joy's report, Lukach used money from the automation fund to make his personal car payments, and to buy electronics, lunches and even tax preparation software.
After Lukach's resignation becomes official, first deputy Clerk of Courts Paul Steffanic will be in charge of the office until Gov. Tom Corbett appoints a replacement from the same political affiliation as Lukach, or one is elected.