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Police Officer Charged with Misusing Volunteer Firefighter Funds

February 28, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marc Furber, 215.348.6339, mjfurber@buckscounty.org

Brian Walter
         Brian Walter

A Lower Southampton Township police officer was arrested today on charges that he misappropriated more than $51,000 belonging to the Feasterville Volunteer Firefighters Relief Association.

Brian Walter, 32, of Feasterville, misused the money by making improper loans to himself and five others while serving as vice president, treasurer and secretary of the association’s executive board, according to a Bucks County Investigating Grand Jury presentment made public this afternoon.

Walter then falsified a series of documents to conceal the transactions, and to suggest to state auditors that the loans were legitimate and being carefully tracked, the presentment states.

Walter, a Lower Southampton officer since March 2007, was charged with theft by failing to make required disposition of funds, a third-degree felony, and three counts of tampering with public records, also third-degree felonies. He also faces several related misdemeanor charges.

The charges are related to his role as a Feasterville VFRA official, not to his role as a township police officer.

Walter is accused of diverting VFRA money – designated by statute to provide for the safety and protection of volunteer firefighters, including benefits for on-duty deaths and injuries – for personal use by himself and five other Feasterville Fire Company members.

Only Walter was charged because it is the executive board’s responsibility to follow the law, and Walter “had total control of the VFRA executive board,” the grand jury stated. By holding three board positions simultaneously, he “used this concentrated power to treat VFRA funds as his own personal property,” the presentment said.

Walter did this by writing seven unauthorized checks for loans, ranging from $15,000 to $1,000, to himself and others, the grand jury presentment said. The money was used to finance two weddings, a Wave Runner, a down payment on a house, high interest credit card debt, tuition bills and one member’s rent.

“While the VFRA executive board was supposed to be a recommending body subject to the will of the entire membership, it was perverted into a secret society for Brian Walter to pay himself, his family and a privileged few,” the grand jury presentment said.

The Feasterville VFRA is one of several thousand such associations throughout Pennsylvania. Each year, the state’s Auditor General distributes millions of dollars in tax revenue from out-of-state insurance companies to VFRAs, which are restricted by statute in how the funds are to be spent. Loans to individuals for personal reasons are not allowed.

VFRA expenditures also are required to be approved by a majority vote of a fire company’s membership. None of the seven loan checks was put to a vote.

“These checks,” the presentment said, “were issued behind a veil of secrecy.”

None of the loan recipients had to fill out an application, undergo a credit check, provide collateral, pay interest, or pay late fees. Rather, they went directly to the VFRA’s executive board, which made no record of the loans.

Under this loose arrangement, the grand jury found, the following checks were issued:

  • $3,986 on February 10, 2012 to Christopher Woods, which he used to pay a portion of his tuition bill;

     

  • $5,000 on March 19, 2012, to Christopher Cummins, which he used to make a down payment on a house; 

  • $1,000 on April 17, 2012, to Anthony Cathey, which he used to help pay his rent;

  • $12,000 on April 24, 2012, to Brian Walter, of which he used $10,000 to finance his wedding and kept $2,000 as a wedding gift to himself;

  • $15,000 on August 8, 2012, to Kevin Walter, Brian Walter’s brother, which he used to finance his own wedding;

  • $9,000 on February 18, 2013, to Robert Wallick Jr., which he used to pay off high-interest credit-card debt; and

  • $5,500 on July 29, 2013, to Brian Walter, which he used to purchase a Wave Runner.

Brian Walter signed each of the checks at a time when he controlled the executive board, the presentment states. “As testimony revealed, the only two other active members during the period where these checks were written were David Walter, who is Brian Walter’s brother, and Christopher Cummins, one of the loan recipients. They were rubber stamps for any action Brian Walter wished to take…”

The loans were not disclosed to the general membership, although legitimate expenditures routinely were submitted for votes at monthly general meetings. The unauthorized loans “were memorialized, if at all, by a cryptic case number entry in the meeting minutes,” the presentment said. “No other documentation identified the loans, the purpose behind the loan, the recipient or the repayment schedule.

“If not for the tenacity of auditors from the Pennsylvania Department of Auditor General, it is questionable whether these checks would have ever been discovered,” the presentment said.

After writing the checks, the grand jury reported, Brian Walter created fraudulent, backdated and altered loan documents that he submitted to the Auditor General to cover his actions and make it appear that he was carefully tracking loan payments and collecting them in a timely fashion.

Most of the loans have been repaid, but for the most part this did not happen until after January 2015. That was when an audit report, released by the Auditor General, identified the $51,486 in unauthorized loans.

Walter was arraigned this afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Mark Douple, who set bail at $100,000 unsecured. A preliminary hearing tentatively was scheduled for March 7.

The case will be prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber, Chief of the Economic Crimes Division of the District Attorney’s Office

Approved for release by Matthew D. Weintraub, District Attorney.

29 Comments

  1. 29 You ra loser 28 Feb
    What a loser 
  2. 28 Kelly 01 Mar
    How is this possible????Its very sad.
  3. 27 Ducky 01 Mar
    He Gone!
  4. 26 Mike 01 Mar
    Wellllll bye
  5. 25 Judge waltman 01 Mar
    What a bum
  6. 24 Tina 01 Mar
    It's only $50,000 what's the big deal?
  7. 23 Barney rafferty 01 Mar
    hey jodge we shoulda got him to pay for my panama vacation
  8. 22 Sean H 01 Mar
    And they bitched about my half ass menu being over priced when it wasn't their money they were spending. Cheapskates. 
  9. 21 Big bobby hoopes 01 Mar
    still can't spell can ya Barn? Hey Walter if I'm a good lawyer looks like you are gonna need one
  10. 20 Sean H 01 Mar
    And they bitched about my half ass menu being over priced when it wasn't their money they were spending. Cheapskates. 
  11. 19 Barney rafferty 01 Mar
    hey jodge we shoulda got him to pay for my panama vacation
  12. 18 Patrick harrigan 01 Mar
    same firehouse that saved my pathetic jerseys from burning.... i like men
  13. 17 Steve 01 Mar
    i hope your brothers landscaping business is doing well 
  14. 16 Kevin W 01 Mar
    Bro, Hoppes, Barn.... I'm hiring. 
  15. 15 Barney 01 Mar
    i can see if they will let me take my ankle bracelet off or else I can only cut my neighbors lawn
  16. 14 Gibson 01 Mar
    hey if there's anymore money going around can we get the pothole fixed in front of nickles? I watched it swallow a car the other day
  17. 13 Barney 01 Mar
    i can see if they will let me take my ankle bracelet off or else I can only cut my neighbors lawn
  18. 12 Tim K 01 Mar
    Any of you guys need a good prison recipe let me know
  19. 11 Tim K 01 Mar
    Any of you guys need a good prison recipe let me know
  20. 10 Officer F leonhardt 01 Mar
    keep your head up guys... I got a DUI when I smashed that pole ... I'm still on the force

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Doylestown, PA 18901 
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