Ex-trea­surer’s em­bez­zle­ment charges move foward

Heather Kuch ac­cused of steal­ing from former Lower Sal­ford Home and School As­so­ci­a­tion

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Bob Keeler bkeeler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @by­bob­keeler on Twit­ter

MONT­GOMERY COUNTY >> Charges that the trea­surer of the Home and School As­so­ci­a­tion at the former Lower Sal­ford Ele­men­tary School took more than $38,000 from the or­ga­ni­za­tion will move for­ward to county court, Mag­is­te­rial District Judge Al­bert Au­gus­tine, Har­leysville, ruled af­ter an Oct. 10 pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing.

At the same time, though, he said the case pre­sented in the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing met only the “bare min­i­mum” to go to trial.

Heather Kuch, 43, of the 300 block of In­dian Crest Way in Lower Sal­ford, was sen­tenced last year to five to 23 months in jail fol­lowed by five years pro­ba­tion and to pay resti­tu­tion of $29,700 to the Vern­field Ele­men­tary Home and School As­so­ci­a­tion and $6,395.46 to Har­leysville Cub Scouts Pack 137 af­ter she pleaded guilty to hav­ing em­bez­zled the money from the two or­ga­ni­za­tions while she served as trea­surer to the groups. Resti­tu­tion has been paid to both groups, on­line court in­for­ma­tion shows.

The new charges are from when Kuch was trea­surer of the Lower Sal­ford Home and School As­so­ci­a­tion at the school be­fore it closed in 2013, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

Af­ter the school closed, the LSHSA was dis­banded and its as­sets turned over to the Vern­field group, where Kuch was trea­surer un­til be­ing re­moved in Au­gust of 2015, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion in the af­fi­davit of prob­a­ble cause for the new charges.

While she was trea­surer of the Lower Sal­ford group, Kuch made sev­eral with­drawals from the LSHSA bank ac­count and trans­ferred the money to her own ac­count, along with writ­ing some unau­tho­rized checks to her­self, tak­ing a to­tal of $38,779.33, Mont­gomery County Det. Jean Mor­ri­son tes­ti­fied at the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion dealt ex­clu­sively with the Lower Sal­ford funds,” she said in an­swer to ques­tion­ing.

De­fense at­tor­neys Nor­man Mittman and Joseph Ru­tala ar­gued the cur­rent case was based on in­for­ma­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tors had at the time of the pre­vi­ous one and that case was al­ready set­tled.

“They pros­e­cuted Lower Sal­ford even if they called it Vern­field,” Ru­tala said.

“They’re com­ing forth say­ing this is new stuff,” he said, “when they knew about it.”

Mont­gomery County As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Christo­pher Daniels said Kuch was pros­e­cuted for and ad­mit­ted to the thefts from the Vern­field and scout groups, not the ones now be­ing charged.

Mor­ri­son said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion lead­ing to the cur­rent charges was started af­ter sus­pected ad­di­tional thefts were re­ported last year.

The charges in­clude theft by un­law­ful tak­ing and theft by de­cep­tion.

Ru­tala said, how­ever, that there was no ev­i­dence pre­sented of ei­ther theft or de­cep­tion.

“The only thing that was tes­ti­fied to was mov­ing money be­tween bank ac­counts,” he said.

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