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Theft alleged from Panther knee-hi assoc.

Published August 23. 2013 05:05PM

A Lansford couple who served as officers of the Panther Valley Knee-Hi Association has been charged with stealing $10,959 from the organization.

Jon and Terri Williams, of 338 W. Abbott St., face charges of theft by failure to make required dispensation of funds and receiving stolen property.

Both denied the accusations, according to court documents.

They were arraigned Thursday before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek, Lansford, and released on $4,000 unsecured bail each.

Jon Williams was president of the organization and Terri Williams was treasurer between 2009 and 2012.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Lansford Det. Jack Soberick, here's what happened:

On Aug. 7, 2012, he received a complaint from Joseph Greco concerning the possible theft of money from the organization. Greco told Soberick he was concerned about the financial practices of the group's treasurer, Terri Williams. The concerns centered around the amount of money that was available to operate the association.

The concerns prompted Greco and James Kindt to review some of the bank statements and the check registry.

They found there were multiple bank drafts made out to "cash." Those drafts were then endorsed by Jon and Terri Williams.

The checks made out to cash were then signed for payment by the Williamses, and cashed.

It was noted that the "cash" payments occurred during the offseason, when it was unlikely there would be a need for financial transactions to be occurring.

After reviewing the matter with Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias, the association was instructed to obtain a complete audit by an accounting firm in order to clarify the transactions which were improper and to fully document the total amount of money that was involved in this incident.

An audit was completed by the firm of Buckno, Lisicky & Co., specifically by Anthony J. Buczek, for the years from 2009 through 2012. Buczek found that Terri Williams had written a series of five checks totaling $4,300 to cash. The checks were endorsed by Jon Williams, cashed, and the money deposited into accounts not owned by the association.

After police were notified and the investigation initiated into potential misappropriation of association funds, $2,980 was deposited on Aug. 20, 2012 into the association's account at First Niagara Bank.

A calculation of registration fees owed to the association was completed, and a comparison made of the number of participants against the funds deposited. There was a shortfall during the listed years of $6,659.50.

The total amount of money taken from the association between 2009 and 2012, not including any money that was returned after the investigation was begun, is approximately $10,959.50.

Soberick interviewed Terri Williams on Aug. 30, 2012. Williams denied taking any money from the association, and gave a written statement in which she wrote that she always deposited the all money she had received from other association members, and paid incoming bills with a vote of approval by the membership.

Williams also said that checks made out to cash were for out-of-pocket expenses, startup money, and, in the case of "offseason" checks, reimbursement for her expenses from a previous sports season.

Soberick requested and received what Terri Williams identified as receipts and a petty cash log, allegedly accounting for the checks made out to cash. All of the material and information was turned over to the accountant, and used as part of the audit.

Soberick conducted a second interview with both Terri and Jon Williams on Dec. 22, 2012. Soberick gave both their Miranda warnings.

Both Terri and Jon Williams "strongly denied" ever having taken money from the association. Jon Williams said there were frequent occurrences where children were allowed to participate based on the parents' promises to pay the fees, but that those payments were never made. He also said there were others who were allowed to participate without paying.

Jon Williams said those non-paying, yet listed participants impacted the amount of the shortage that had been discovered.

However, at no time during this investigation or during the interviews was Soberick offered or provided a list of names or a total number of these non-paying participants.

Both Terri and Jon Williams declined to provide a formal statement, either written or verbal. However, both did discuss that taking this amount of money would not have benefitted them, as their current debt far exceeded the amount allegedly taken.

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