NORRISTOWN — A Skippack man has admitted to stealing nearly $250,000 while working as treasurer of the Upper Gwynedd Township Fire Department, reportedly so he could live a lavish lifestyle.
Ronald Kenneth “Ken” Nolan, 62, of the 4900 block of Skippack Pike, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court on Wednesday to felony charges of theft by deception, access device fraud, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received in connection with thefts that occurred between January 2006 and December 2012.
President Judge William J. Furber Jr. deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Nolan. Nolan remains free on bail pending his sentencing hearing.
Nolan was treasurer, a volunteer position, of the fire company located at 660 Garfield Ave in Upper Gwynedd for 24 years until he lost his re-election bid in December 2012. Nolan, who also was a paid fire marshal for Upper Gwynedd for about 20 years, faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 ½ to 41 years in prison on the charges.
With the charges, prosecutors and county detectives alleged Nolan, from 2006 to 2012, took unauthorized cash advances from the fire department’s bank accounts to pay for jewelry, computers, clothing, sporting events, trips to Miami, Jamaica and China, and his daughter’s 2006 wedding in Las Vegas, including airfare for wedding guests.
Assistant District Attorney Laura Adshead vowed to seek a state prison sentence against Nolan.
“This is a very serious case where the defendant abused his position of trust with the fire company,” Adshead said. “He was using the stolen money for his own personal expenses and to live a lavish lifestyle outside of his means.”
When a new treasurer replaced Nolan in December 2012, he examined the fire company’s finances and found irregularities, according to a criminal complaint. In one instance, officials found a notation associated to the business management account that indicated about $3,000 worth of furniture had been purchased for the fire company. However, officials were unable to confirm that the fire company had received the furniture, according to the arrest affidavit.
In February 2013, Nolan sent an email to the president of the fire company, admitting to stealing funds from the company.
“Ken Nolan advised he does not know the amount of funds he stole, because he did not keep records,” county Detective Joseph P. Kelly Jr. alleged in the criminal complaint.
A forensic auditor found that between January 2006 and December 2012 Nolan stole $249,703 from the fire company, according to the arrest affidavit.
In addition to using fire company funds to pay for trips, his daughter’s wedding, computers, and sporting events such as Flyer’s hockey games, Nolan “used the fire company credit card for cash advances totaling thousands of dollars to fund his gambling habit,” according to arrest documents.
“Ken Nolan used fire company funds to pay for 15 trips to Las Vegas including his airfare and the airfare of guests, staying at hotels and spas,” Kelly alleged. “He unlawfully opened a business management account from which he made purchases unbeknownst to the fire company officers. These purchases had no association to the operation or benefit of the fire company…”
The fire company is a non-profit entity, which operates on funds received from numerous sources including taxes collected by the township, grants from the state, private donations and fundraising activities, according to court papers. The fire company has a mutual aid agreement with Lansdale and North Wales and Lower Gwynedd, Montgomery, Towamencin, Whitpain and Worcester townships.
Defense lawyer Timothy Woodward, who represents Nolan, previously said Nolan is “deeply regretful for his behavior.” Woodward has said Nolan wants to do whatever is necessary to pay back the department.
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