‘We will dig in and fight this until the end,’ former mayor’s attorney says

Last updated: July 31. 2013 11:56PM - 6685 Views
By - rdupuis@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6113

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HARVEYS LAKE — A former mayor and two other people have been accused of using municipal sewer authority accounts to purchase items for personal use, including auto parts and home appliances.

According to state police at Wyoming, General Municipal Authority of Harveys Lake Executive Director Richard Boice, 66, son Jason Boice, 38, a foreman, and authority secretary Denise Sult, 61, made the illicit purchases in 2007 and 2008. The authority is an independent entity, separate from borough government.

Investigation began after an April 21, 2009, report of inappropriate charges brought by Charles Musial, then a borough council member and police officer — now the police chief — who told investigators the authority stopped using him as a contracted sewer inspector in March 2009 after he filed a right-to-know request for records related to authority accounts.

All three defendants, who are borough residents, face two counts of theft and two counts of receiving stolen property, according to charges filed Wednesday at the office of District Judge James Tupper in Kingston Township.

“Mr. Boice maintains his innocence,” said attorney Peter Moses, who is representing Richard Boice, adding that his client believes the case is politically motivated.

“Mr. Boice will not plead guilty in this matter. We will dig in and fight this until the end,” Moses said.

Troopers said records revealed the following:

• Richard Boice made $115 worth of purchases in April 2008 — $106 for a motorcycle battery and $9.58 for motorcycle oil from Dallas Auto Parts.

• Jason Boice made $670 worth of purchases — $177 for a pump from Dallas Auto Parts in October 2007 and $492 for a furnace from R.E. Michel Co. in April 2009.

• Sult made $31.74 worth of purchases — $6.77 for a Honda Civic headlamp from Dallas Auto Parts in March 2008 and $24.97 for a three-speed tower fan from Dallas Centre Hardware in August 2008.

Affidavit details

According to the affidavit, investigators met with authority solicitor Tom O’Connor on Oct. 9, 2009, and he told them the trio “admitted to him that there were personal purchases … but that those purchases had been reimbursed” and copies of the checks were attached to the appropriate invoices.

Efforts to reach O’Connor were not immediately successful Wednesday afternoon. Efforts to reach attorneys for the other two defendants also were unsuccessful.

Investigators said they interviewed Sult on Oct. 4, 2010. She admitted buying the headlight, and placed $7.18 in petty cash to cover the cost — including tax — adding that she handles the petty cash account.

She also told investigators that O’Connor advised her and the Boices after the allegations arose that anyone making personal purchases using authority accounts should reimburse the accounts by writing a check. Sult said she later wrote a check to cover the headlight, but had no receipt for the money she earlier placed in the account, which did not appear on any records. Police said Sult told them she also wrote a check in 2009 to cover the fan.

On Oct. 14, 2010, investigators interviewed Richard Boice. Investigators said he paid back the amount he owed, including taxes, since the authority is a tax-exempt entity. Police said they asked Boice why it took him more than a year to write a check for his purchases, and he “indicated that it was an oversight on his part.”

Interviewed on March 6, 2012, Jason Boice told police he immediately wrote a check to cover the purchase of a furnace for his home. Police said he told them he forgot to reimburse the cost of the water pump for his truck after having back surgery, but “immediately paid it back when the newspaper article about the alleged thefts came out and brought it to his attention.”

Musial informed the board about his suspicions during a 2009 meeting, denying allegations that his motivation was political.

Boice, who served 26 years in borough government — 10 as councilman and 16 as mayor — was defeated by Republican challenger Clarence Hogan in the 2009 election. His wife, Councilwoman Michell’e Boice, was elected to a seat on the board in 2011.

Moses questions both the timing of the original investigation and how long it took to result in charges, adding that a lengthy list of original allegations against his client resulted only in “a hundred-dollar motorcycle battery.”

“This is an attempt to ruin Mr. Boice’s character, to ruin him politically,” Moses said.

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