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Fire company theft

Published August 16. 2013 05:04PM

A Carbon County man admitted in the county court on Thursday to stealing a large sum of money from a fire company.

Robert Lee Neff, 50, of Summit Hill, pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception, as a felony three, before Judge Steven R. Serfass.

Neff admitted stealing $65,865.47 from the Lehigh Fire Company No. 1 of Lehighton, while he was treasurer of the company. The amount taken was determined by a professional auditing firm hired by the fire company.

Lehighton police said Neff admitted to the theft on Feb. 3, 2012, when he came to the police station and said he wanted to confess to stealing money.

The money was taken over a period beginning in 2008 and up until he admitted it to police. The money was taken by Neff writing checks to cash or himself.

The plea agreement notes that Neff must obtain counseling for a gambling addiction, which might indicate where the money went.

Serfass deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation report.

A fire company spokesperson, Bernard Mieczkowski, spoke to the court about the theft.

He told Serfass that Neff was placed in a position of trust and violated that trust from almost the first month he was in the position of treasurer. Mieczkowski said it takes a volunteer organization like the fire company a long time to raise the money that was taken.

He said Neff not only wrote checks from the company accounts but took funds from certificates of deposits.

"The court should make an example of him that this type of thing won't happen again," he said.

The plea agreement does not mention anything about the type of sentence to be imposed. That will be solely up to the court. Sentencing should take place in 30 to 60 days.

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