NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — The “St. Vincent de Paul Society,” a lay organization, helps people who are in real need of food, shelter and other necessities of life.
“They need help with bills, paying their rent, paying their gas bills, certainly this time of year they get many requests,” says Father Nick Vaskov, Assistant Pastor of Four New Castle.
So when a man and woman in New Castle were accused of theft from the the charity, it sounded a lot like stealing from the proverbial poor box.
“They came to understand, someone was trying to cheat them – giving false addresses,” Vaskov said.
Police say 30-year-old John Gwin, II and 56-year-old Diane Vandergriff live on Edgewood Avenue. Both are being charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit theft.
Ms. Vandergriff answered the door, saying Gwin owns the house and she’s his tenant.
KDKA’s Mary Robb Jackson: “So you didn’t hear that the District Attorney is sending you a summons, charging you with conspiracy to commit theft?”
Vandergriff: “No. no.”
According to the Lawrence County District Attorney, Gwin posed as a “landlord” receiving eight checks from the charity between 2010 and 2013, worth $1,580.
Vandergriff allegedly filed false claims for aid five times, with Gwin getting the checks – and both signing them them.
Jackson: “Do you know how much money it was?”
Jackson: “They said that it was $1,580.”
Vandergriff: “Not that I know of.”
When KDKA asked Vandergrift to check her mail, sure enough, the magistrate’s summons was there.
Jackson: “Conspiracy, theft by deception, false impression.”
Vandergriff: “Have no idea.”
Jackson: “You have no idea?”
John Gwin was not at home.
“It’s very sad, again because their are people who truly do need help,” said Father Vaskov.
Gwin and Vandergriff face a preliminary hearing next month.