Delmont fire officials: State audit recommendations met |

Delmont fire officials: State audit recommendations met

Paul Peirce

Delmont Volunteer Fire Department officials report the department is continuing to “move forward” after a recent report by the state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s office disclosed not all of its previous recommendations in prior audits regarding the department finances had been followed.

“For audited period Jan. 1, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2017, the relief association took appropriate corrective action to adhere to one of three findings contained in prior audit report. However, the relief association failed to take appropriate corrective action to address the two remaining findings,” DePasquale said in a Jan. 9 release on the audit findings.

But fire chief Rich Balik maintained Wednesday that since new leadership took over the department in 2017 the two findings cited in the recent report have been remedied.

“Almost as soon as I took over (in 2017), I made sure that the (relief association’s) disbursement officer maintained proper surety bond coverage. That was not done before,” Balik said.

Balik said a second finding in the recent audit by DePasquale’s staff was also fixed when the fire department reimbursed its relief association an “undocumented” $3,000 expenditure that occurred in the prior fire department administration.

“I worked with those two auditors when they were here late last year to make sure we are doing things properly. We’re moving forward… we’ve even been able to gain a few members in the last year,” he said.

The department was beset with mismanagement allegations after four former officers were charged with theft last year dating back to 2013. Those officers who have since been replaced have denied wrongdoing and are awaiting trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.

Former fire Chief Logan Clark, 35; his wife, Heather, 35; former fire department treasurer Jason G. Thomas, 37; and Timothy Bucciarelli, 60, are charged with theft for allegedly using department funds for personal benefit. A review of nearly four years of department finances led to allegations that the group misspent $60,000, according to documents filed by Westmoreland County Detective Paul Burkey.

Thomas also is accused of an additional count of access device fraud for allegedly using a department credit card for purchases that were for personal benefit, according to court documents.

The auditors noted in the recent report that during the 2016-2017 period, relief association records indicate it did comply with a previous recommendation requiring more than one signature on disbursements.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.