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Schuylkill County takes action after Lukach plea

Former Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Stephen Lukach, who entered a guilty plea to federal charges last month, won’t be getting his county pension. Lukach was clerk of courts for 27 years.

Lukach, 68, of Nesquehoning, was making $54,000 a year when he resigned in 2014. A federal grand jury indicted him July 2018 on 20 counts of mail and wire fraud and manufacturing records to obstruct an investigation.

Lukach entered a guilty plea to a single count of mail fraud and one count of falsifying records.

After he is sentenced, the remaining counts of the indictment are to be moved for dismissal. A sentencing date has not been set.

During a meeting Wednesday, the county commissioners approved a resolution adopted by the retirement board March 29. In accordance with the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act, the commissioners voted to “approve and authorize the forfeiture and termination of all rights to Schuylkill County retirement or other benefits or payment of any kind of Stephen Lukach, including but not limited to retirement benefits and paid health insurance benefits.”

“We took the action on the advice of our solicitor’s office,” Commissioners’ Chairman George Halcovage said.

The investigation into Lukach began in March 2014 after County Controller Christy Joy found irregularities in the Clerk of Court’s records from 2012. The FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police investigated. Authorities found that Lukach took thousands of dollars — taxpayer money — from the clerk of courts office and used the money for personal use. Money was taken from the automation fund, built with monies collected from court proceedings, earmarked for technology upgrades in the clerk’s office. Instead, according to the investigation, Lukach used the money to make his own car payments, buy lunches, and purchase tax software and electronics for himself.

While the FBI investigation and audit took place, Lukach interfered by stealing mail, forging records and creating false bank records, which he sent to the controller’s office.