A former Readstown Fire Department Chief and a former Readstown EMS President have been charged with felony misconduct in office along with additional charges of theft.
According to the criminal complaints filed in Vernon County Circuit Court on October 28, Roseanna N. Welsh, 51, Readstown, and Phillip R. Townsend, 45, Readstown, are suspected of taking “advances” in pay above the amount they could be owed from hours worked.
The brother and sister have been charged with felony misconduct in office. Welsh, the EMS president and fire department treasurer, was also charged with felony theft and Townsend, the fire chief, was charged with misdemeanor theft.
The Vernon County Sheriff’s Department undertook investigation of the local fire department in July 2014 at the request of Readstown Police Officer Dale Winch. The investigation was started after the village police officer spoke with Vernon County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Nathan Campbell regarding Welsh and possibly others charging personal items on a Readstown Fire Department charge account.
While serving as treasurer of the Readstown Fire Department and the Readstown EMS President, Welsh advanced herself $10,113 more than she was entitled to be paid between January 2013 and July 2014, according to investigator Matthew Sutton. Additionally, Welsh withdrew $19,578 in cash from the EMS money market and pop fund accounts.
Townsend was advanced $2,399 beyond the hours he had worked with both the Readstown Fire Department and EMS during the same time period.
There were also over $4,000 in withdrawals from other Readstown Fire Department accounts yet to be accounted for and two credit cards in Welsh’s possession that had been used for purchasing mostly personal items, according to the criminal complaint.
Purchases on the Readstown EMS Community Card, which totaled $7,976.32, appeared to be for personal use groceries between December 16, 2012 and August 15, 2014, according to Sutton. The Readstown EMS Visa Business Card had $9,308.80 in charges between September 20, 2012 and July 21, 2014. Approximately $740 has been identified as potentially legitimate EMS purchases by Readstown EMS Vice President Nancy Deckert.
Both emergency services departments have undergone some restructuring, according to Readstown Village President David Edgar.
Mitch Mabb has taken over as the acting Readstown Fire Chief with Joe Roberts as the acting Assistant Fire Chief. Nancy Deckert, the Readstown EMS Vice-President has taken over the EMS president’s duties, as well.
Readstown Village Clerk Shawna Koch has assumed responsibility for the Readstown Fire Department and Readstown EMS bookkeeping accounts.
“We don’t have a lot of money,” Edgar said. “This is quite a loss for our departments. I’m hoping we can get some restitution, but I don’t know.”
It is unclear if the village insurance policy will cover any of the loss, nor has the village turned in a claim as of yet, according to Edgar.
“We have to know just how much they took, and we don’t have that (final) number yet,” Edgar said. “Hopefully, we’ll have something soon.”
Welsh and Townsend are both free on $1,000 signature bonds and are scheduled to appear in Vernon County Circuit Court on Monday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.
Townsend faced much the same charges in a criminal complaint filed on April 12, 2013. In that case, Townsend admitted to authorities he had charged $500 in fuel for use in his personal vehicle to the fire department’s account. The misconduct charge was dismissed on a motion made by the prosecutor with Townsend agreeing to plead guilty to the theft.
Despite this conviction, Townsend was reinstated as the Readstown Fire Chief.