The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 20, 2013

Fire dept. officer charged in theft

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — A Sharon firefighter who also served as a union officer is accused of stealing more than $6,000, most of it from the union’s checking account.  

Jason Scott Clepper was charged Monday with two counts of theft about two weeks after members of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 417 reported the loss.

The affidavit of probable cause filed to support the charges in the complaint said firefighters called police to their Nov. 3 union meeting.

Matthew Grove, president of the union, said they had discovered money was missing and confronted Clepper, 32, who was union secretary. He admitted the theft, Grove said.

The members’ preliminary review estimated the missing amount at $6,285 but Grove said one of the union’s four accounts remained to be checked and that the amount stolen could change.

Union members told police the thefts may have happened over a period of years. Clepper had been secretary for some time and he did not keep good records, they said.

Grove said the checking account required only one signature on checks which Clepper had written for cash. Grove said members would complete a full accounting and notify police of the result.

On Oct. 29, Clepper deposited $3,450 of his money into the account, the affidavit said.

On Friday, firefighters told police they had gone over all transactions, deposits and withdrawals since Jan. 1, 2007. Nicholas Samson, acting treasurer, said Clepper transferred money among the accounts, moving funds into the checking account to meet any financial obligations.

The members’ review shows $550 is unaccounted for from the savings account.

Money firefighters collect every year in boot drives for the Muscular Dystrophy Association was correctly donated to the charity, the affidavit said, although Clepper transferred money among accounts to have enough money available when donations were made.

In the affidavit, firefighter Wade Henry told police that Clepper had admitted “that he did steal money from their account, and that he does have a gambling problem.”

A schedule of 26 transactions attached to the affidavit shows that withdrawals began in May 2011 and continued until June 2012.

A call to Grove for further comment was not returned Tuesday.

Clepper, who was hired in December 2003, was suspended Nov. 5, said City Manager Scott Andrejchak.

“He is on paid suspension pending the outcome of our own internal review of the situation as his employer,” Andrejchak said.

Clepper, charged before District Justice Dennis M. Songer with theft by unlawful taking and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, posted bond after his arraignment.