Former South Greensburg secretary awaits $101K restitution check to clear
South Greensburg’s former longtime secretary will have to wait until his nearly $101,000 restitution check clears before he will be allowed to plead guilty to taking money from the borough.
Dennis Lee Kunkle Jr. appeared in court Monday and turned over the check to his attorney while awaiting a hearing at which he was scheduled to plead guilty to theft and other offenses. Authorities charged Kunkle with taking more than $166,000 from borough accounts.
Kunkle, 54, was charged in 2016 after borough officials announced audits discovered missing funds. Investigators said they found evidence Kunkle diverted the money from garbage fees and other accounts dating back to 2011.
A hearing will be held Oct. 9 after it is confirmed Kunkle had sufficient funds in his account to cover the check, Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway said.
“Most likely I will accept the plea, but after reading the affidavit (criminal complaint) I have a lot of concerns about the source of the restitution,” Hathaway said.
Defense attorney Chris Nichols said Kunkle’s father at one time was a signatory to an account Kunkle used to raise the restitution money. The judge directed Kunkle’s father to appear at the October hearing to certify his son had permission to use money from the account.
Neither Kunkle nor District Attorney John Peck disclosed other terms of the potential plea deal.
“From the beginning, he’s been cooperating and wanted to do everything he could to make the borough whole,” Nichols said.
Kunkle, a former operative for Republican political candidates throughout Westmoreland County, worked as South Greensburg’s secretary for 29 years before he resigned days after police launched an investigation. He previously served as a borough councilman and member of the Greensburg Salem School Board.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]