HAZLE TWP. —The secretary/treasurer for the Independence Fire & Rescue Co. No. 1 in Rice Township was charged Monday with stealing more than $30,000 by multiple ATM withdrawals and cashing forged checks since September.
Gina Tombasco, 30, of Horizon Village, Wright Township, was arrested by Rice Township police and Luzerne County detectives on two counts of theft, and one count each of forgery, receiving stolen property and access device fraud. She was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $30,000 bail.
Tombasco allegedly failed to deposit $1,130 from a spaghetti dinner and $901 from the rescue department’s boot drive over the Memorial Day weekend in addition to the bank withdrawals and forged checks, according to the criminal complaint.
At least nine ATM withdrawals were traced to inside the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino.
The Independence Fire & Rescue Company was formed earlier this year from the remnants of the Rice Township Volunteer Fire Department, which was decertified by township supervisors in June.
When the department was the township volunteer fire department, former fire chief/treasurer Donald Bly, 32, was charged with stealing $4,395 in 2012. Bly pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge and was sentenced in September to six months in the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program, a special probation program, court records say.
According to the criminal complaint:
A bank officer at Citizens Bank in October noticed “many red flags” and suspicious activity regarding the rescue department’s account.
Authorities seized the rescue department’s bank records that allegedly showed $5,607 in ATM withdrawals at numerous locations, including the casino, and several checks made payable to Tombasco totaling $3,742, the complaint says.
Tombasco allegedly tried to cash a $3,117 check at Citizens Bank but was denied because the check required two signatures. Tombasco cashed the check at United Cash Checking, receiving $3,117 in cash, according to the complaint.
After the fire and rescue department opened a new account at First National Bank of Pennsylvania, Tombasco allegedly endorsed a “starter check” for $3,053 made payable to Luzerne County Housing Authority to cover missed rent, the complaint says.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Dec. 18.