CASTLE SHANNON (KDKA) — A veteran volunteer firefighter in Castle Shannon was charged Thursday with embezzling nearly $140,000 from the department’s death benefit fund, but the state auditor general says even more money is unaccounted for.
The Allegheny County District Attorney took over the investigation after the state auditor general uncovered tens of thousands of dollars in unaccounted for money.
Castle Shannon volunteer firefighters learned they were swindled when they confronted 76-year-old John Montgomery last month. They say Montgomery told them, “Yeah, I stole it.”
“What’s sad is that this was a member of the fire department who had worked with his fellow firefighters for over 40 years and had achieved a position of trust,” attorney John Zagari said.
An investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office alleges that Montgomery stole nearly $140,000 from the firefighters death benefit fund.
Montgomery told the D.A. he’s repaid about $66,000 of the missing money, but it could be worse than that.
A state auditor general investigation last year found $249,877 unaccounted for.
“They are subject to the same problems that every corporation has that finds out they have an embezzler in their midst,” Zagari said. “You can try and do whatever you want, but if somebody wants to get their hand in the till, they’re eventually going to do it and that’s what happened here.”
KDKA-TV’s Paul Martino stopped at Montgomery’s home in Castle Shannon on Thursday, but no one answered the door. Meanwhile, the firefighters’ attorney defends the department and says you shouldn’t stop donating to their fundraisers.
“These are guys that climb through windows when homes are on fire. These are guys you need to have faith in,” Zagari said. “We have one bad guy, and we got rid of him. We’re gonna move forward.”
Montgomery was arraigned Thursday morning for theft and misappropriation of funds.