Last updated: August 13. 2014 7:05PM - 690 Views
By - smocarsky@civitasmedia.com

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HARRISBURG — Rice Township Supervisor Chairwoman Marcia Thomas violated the state Ethics Act when she served as the township secretary/treasurer, the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission has found.

The commission issued a final adjudication regarding an apparent complaint regarding Thomas, according to a news release.

According to the release, the commission found that Thomas violated the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act when:

• She used her position as secretary/treasurer for a her own personal, financial benefit when she used a township cellphone to transact rental agreements with Blue Marlin Group, a rental property business owned by Thomas and Linda Fischer.

• She failed to disclose on Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 calendar years all direct and indirect sources of income and her employment with the Mountaintop Eagle.

• She failed to disclose her employment with Blue Marlin Group on SFIs filed for the 2007 and 2008 calendar years;

• She failed to disclose creditors in excess of $6,500 on the SFI filed for the 2009 calendar year.

The commission also found:

• No violation of the Ethics Act occurred when Thomas authorized compensation for compensatory and vacation time in excess of that approved by township supervisors, because any gain she realized was too minor to merit consideration.

• No violation of the Ethics Act occurred when Thomas submitted documentation to the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System for her inclusion in pension plans which included altered dates of her employment, resulting in an increased pension to be paid to her, because any gain she realized was too minor to merit consideration.

According to an agreement between Thomas and the commission, Thomas must:

• Pay back $2,335 to Rice Township through the commission within 30 days of the order and not accept any reimbursement or other payment from the township in connection with the matter.

• File amended, complete and accurate Statements of Financial Interest for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 calendar years within 30 days of the order.

Non-compliance will result in the institution of an order enforcement action, according to the news release.

According to the commission, Thomas was hired as secretary/treasurer in November 1990 and was reappointed annually through 2010. After she was not reappointed at a reorganization meeting on Jan. 3, 2011, Thomas then campaigned for a seat on the board of supervisors and was elected to the board in November 2011.

The commission also noted that Thomas was a part-time employee of the Mountaintop Eagle and co-owner of Blue Marlin Group at all times relevant to the investigation.

Thomas told the commission that two supervisors gave her permission to use the township-provided cell phone for personal use, but the commission said she should have realized that the supervisors had no authority to do so because of the township’s written policy pertaining to cell phone use.

Attempts to reach Thomas and Supervisors Miller Stella and Mark Taney were unsuccessful. The cell phone number listed for Thomas in the commission ruling has been changed or disconnected or is no longer in service.

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