Police: Former South Greensburg secretary lied on witness stand, stole restitution money
South Greensburg’s former secretary was jailed Thursday on police allegations that he lied on the witness stand in October about the source of $101,000 in restitution paid to the borough in connection with a theft.
Dennis Lee Kunkle Jr., 54, was charged Thursday with perjury, theft, money laundering and receiving stolen property. Westmoreland County detectives accuse him of stealing the restitution money from his 77-year-old father, for whom he had power of attorney.
He is being held at the Westmoreland County Prison on $100,000 bail. Kunkle pleaded with District Judge Chris Flanigan during his arraignment hearing as she considered setting monetary bail.
“This is before Christmas,” Kunkle said. “My wife on her own cannot support family, I have to work.”
Kunkle, of Hempfield, was arrested almost exactly two years ago on charges that he diverted more than $155,000 of South Greensburg funds for his private use over a five-year period, investigators said. He oversaw finances in the borough of about 2,100 residents for nearly three decades.
He pleaded guilty in that case and paid $101,000 in restitution. He was sentenced Oct. 10 to five years on intensive probation and a year of house arrest.
Judge Rita Hathaway delayed the plea hearing for several weeks over concerns about the source of the restitution payment. Kunkle testified that he cashed in his retirement and didn’t use money belonging to his father.
Westmoreland County Detective Ray Dupilka almost immediately began investigating the source of the restitution funds after learning that money was missing from Dennis Lee Kunkle Sr.’s accounts. A review of bank accounts showed that Kunkle Jr. wrote 38 checks from his father’ account payable to cash, himself or his wife between January and November, according to an affidavit.
In addition, four checks from Kunkle Sr.’s account totaling $61,000 were deposited into Kunkle Jr.’s account between Sept. 24 and 28, police said. Kunkle Jr. issued two checks to his attorney’s law group in June and September for the restitution.
Dupilka told Flanigan that the county Area Agency on Aging has intervened and is assisting Kunkle Sr., who was living in his son’s basement.
“I’m not sure at this time what his housing status is,” Dupilka said. “They have to move him to ensure his needs are being met. I believe they are petitioning for guardianship.”
Kunkle Jr. told Flanigan that he is an Uber driver and he and his wife have two sons.
“Since this has all happened, I have been very careful what is paid out of my father’s account, there is receipts,” Kunkle told Flanigan, adding that those costs include medication and groceries.
Flanigan said she has concerns about the father and son living together. She ordered that Kunkle Jr. surrender his power of attorney and not have any contact with his father.
A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 20.
Kunkle Jr. was a leader for many years with the Westmoreland County Republican Committee, taking part in several campaigns. He previously served on South Greensburg council and as a Greensburg Salem school director.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @byrenatta.