Lower Southampton officer accused of misappropriating fire company funds

- Authorities say 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.

According to investigators, Brian Walter, 33, 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.

Police say Walter allegedly 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.

According to investigators, 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. Authorities say 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.

 

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