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Fire company seeks full restitution in civil complaint

By Staff | Jul 20, 2010

MUNCY – A borough woman who embezzled more than $171,000 from Keystone Hook and Ladder Co. here while she was the volunteer fire company secretary-treasurer hasn’t yet paid back the volunteers she swindled, according to a fire company lawyer.

Nichole Lee Rupert, 38, of 618 Shuttle Hill Road, pleaded guilty on March 23 to the crimes.

Rupert was sentenced by county Judge Marc F. Lovecchio to serve 11 months and 14 days to 23 months and 28 days in prison. She also was ordered to make full restitution to the fire company, and is named in a civil complaint issued by the fire company this week.

“To date,” the complaint alleges, “Rupert has not paid any of the amount for which she is responsible,” wrote J. David Smith, attorney for the fire company based at 31-35 S. Main St.

The fire company is demanding in the document a judgment in its favor in an amount in excess of $171,029, together with the costs according to law. The claim exceeds the limits of arbitration in the county, Smith wrote.

Rupert was executive secretary for a number of years until 2009 when an investigation began.

Over a four-year period, Rupert diverted the fire company funds and used it for her own personal gain, buying luxury items for her home, according to borough police Chief Richard Sutton.

In addition to the costs for making the account whole, for which Rupert is responsible, the fire company incurred legal fees, including the cost of prosecution, which Rupert also is responsible to pay, according to a statement by Daniel Knapp, fire company president.

Rupert violated the public trust by taking money from the fire company, placing it in a precariously dangerous financial situation, and stealing cash donations over decades of fundraisers and games of chance, he said in a prior report.

Rupert pleaded guilty to three counts of theft, two counts of forgery, one count of computer trespass and one count of receiving stolen property.

After her time is served, Rupert is to be monitored by the adult probation office for up to 20 years while she pays back the fire company. She also is expected to perform 200 hours of community service.

Rupert is an inmate at the Lycoming County Prison’s Pre-Release Center.