Surrey Treasurer exonerated, Embezzlement charges dismissed
By Pat Maurer
Surrey Township Treasurer was happy when she read the email sent from County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis to Township Attorney Jaynie Hoerauf and forwarded to her last Tuesday night.
Ambrozaitis wrote, “I and my Chief Assistant, have reviewed this report and agree that criminal charges will not be forthcoming.”
She explained, “Raymond Tigner is alleging that he paid his taxes in cash and that Esther Pitchford, Surrey Township Treasurer, embezzled that money. He claims that he paid his taxes in cash but has no receipt for them. And, he also claims that he paid these 2012 taxes before the Township had even sent the tax notices out.”
At last September’s meeting, Surrey Township Treasurer Esther Pitchford told the rest of the Surrey Township Board that she had been accused of embezzling a tax payment by township residents Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Tigner. “I wanted you all to know what has been going on,” she told the board then.
“I’ve never been accused of anything like this in my life,” Pitchford said at the September meeting. “I contacted the Township Attorney Jaynie Hoerauf and asked her to attend the township board meeting in case the Tigners were there. She suggested that I explain the situation to the board and to the public and that I request an investigation to clear me of these accusations.” Although the Tigners didn’t attend that meeting, the board okayed an investigation into the matter.
In her report dated Monday, March 11, Ambrozaitis said that a witness for Tigner, Randy Brasington had signed a statement Tigner had written for him saying he paid his taxes on May 21, 2012, which supported Tigner’s story. “However,” she wrote, “the problem is that Brasington’s check is dated June 19, 2012 and other checks written by Brasington to Surrey Township are dated subsequent to (after) that date.” She also said, “There is no record of Brasington being at the hall on the date claimed in his statement and the evidence we do have refutes that date.”
She concluded, “It is unclear if Tigner is mistaken or simply confused about the dates involved, but there is no evidence of a crime being committed by the treasurer.”
Several audience members cheered when that statement was read in Tuesday’s meeting. Pitchford said she was “relieved it was over.”
In another matter Tuesday evening, the board held a brief Public Hearing then approved a resolution and an amendment to the Township Ordinance for Civil Fines. The wording on the ordinance allows the fines/costs to be increased from time to time with this action. Civil infractions of any township ordinance (blight, zoning etc.) will be fined as follows: first offense $75; second within three years $150; third offense within three years $325; and fourth offense within three years $500.
Following his report, the Township Board also approved spending $10,000 from fire department moneys to purchase five sets of turn-out gear and gave Chief Dave Williams
approval to pursue and have the Township attorney review NFPA 1 and 101 for fire safety and fire prevention codes and modify them for the Township.
Other business included:
*Giving the Supervisor permission to look into a possible replacement for Waste Management to manage the Township Recycling Center. Their contract expires in September, he said, and the rates now have additional costs for services that were originally included in the contract. “An example is mowing,” he said. “We pay an additional charge for them to cut the grass or any maintenance there.”
*A monthly report from Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski.
*A report from County Commissioner Lynn Grim.
*A zoning report by Administrator Rod Williams.
*Approved the payment of bills totaling $42,992.71.