2020-0524 jz_0633 jackson township.JPG

Linda Lou Baun, the former secretary-treasurer of rural Jackson Township, has been indicted on federal charges for allegedly embezzling more than $170,000 from the township bank accounts.

PITTSBURGH — A grand jury has indicted a former Mercer County woman accused of embezzling more than $170,000 from Jackson Township during her time as secretary and treasurer.

Linda Lou Baun, 72, of Largo, Fla., formerly of Jackson Township, was indicted Nov. 10 in Pittsburgh on charges of mail fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman said in a news release from his office with the Department of Justice for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Baun was charged May 21, 2020, by state police with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, access-device fraud, tampering with records or identification, misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions, and two counts of theft by deception.

From September 2011 until December 2019, Baun stole about $170,000 from the township. She served as the township’s secretary and treasurer at that time, according to the indictment.

Jackson Township is a rural community northeast of Mercer and has a population of about 1,200. Its total township budget for 2018 was $461,000.

Baun reportedly made unauthorized cash withdrawals via ATMs from the township’s general fund and made multiple purchases from online vendors, including Amazon.

She tried to conceal the thefts by recording false entries in the township’s accounting software.

Each of the six charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence is based on the seriousness of the offenses and prior criminal history, if any.

According to the criminal complaint filed by state police upon Baun’s arrest, police received information in early 2020 from Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker with detailed financial transactions for Jackson Township.

Richard Tice, a certified public accountant with McCall Scanlon and Tice LLC, reviewed township records, which showed that Baun used the township’s debit card between 2011 and 2019.

Township officials asked the accounting firm to look for potential misappropriation of funds, noting that there were no receipts for the purchases that Baun made.

Jackson Township supervisors told police that there was no legitimate reason for Baun’s ATM cash withdrawals.

Search warrants for Baun’s personal bank accounts, online retailers and banks revealed that Baun withdrew more than $170,000 with the township’s bank card.

She was captured on video using the card to withdraw cash, and each transaction was under $500, which police said was meant to deceive the supervisors.

Police said one online transaction – a personalized graduation keychain – was recorded in township records as “lights and plugs.”

Baun marked the ATM transactions as cash withdrawals for office supplies and computer software, police said.

She claimed to have also used some of that money to pay students for work she had been assigned. She reportedly asked a supervisor for approval to hire the students. Even though the request was denied, Baun hired the students.

Baun refused to provide their names and she did not keep employment records, which police said is a violation of federal, state and local withholding laws relating to payroll taxes.

Baun admitted to using some of the ATM cash for personal uses, including paying for medicine and her own bills, police said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee J. Karl is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation leading to the indictment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An indictment is only a legal accusation. Suspects are to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Trending Video