Carmichaels council implements financial controls after alleged theft

July 13, 2017
Members of Carmichaels Borough Council, from left, President Charles Walker, David Antonini, Marianne Gideon, Mike Dohanich and Josephine Gresko, hold their regular meeting Wednesday night. - Bob Niedbala/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CARMICHAELS – Carmichaels Borough Council has implemented more stringent financial controls since allegations arose last fall about the theft of borough money by the former borough secretary, council members said Wednesday night.

New controls, “a lot of bells and whistles” have been put in place, Councilman Marianne Gideon said at council’s monthly meeting.

Council President Charles Walker noted, as an example, the borough’s payroll is now being handled by an independent third party. He declined to name the independent party and referred questions regarding such matters, as well as matters involving theft charges filed last month against the former secretary, Brandi Wydo-Streit, to borough solicitor Jeffry Grimes, who did not attend the meeting.

Walker would say, however, the borough is financially solvent.

“We’re financially sound and can pay our bills and function,” he said. “…Things got a little tight but we’re on a roll again.”

Council members said the borough did take a hit as a result of the loss of the nearly $75,000 Wydo-Streit is alleged to have stolen from the borough between 2012 and 2016, according to court documents. Mayor David Jack noted for a second year, the borough will not have a paving program and will have to get by just patching potholes.

Though council members would not say how it might have happened that an employee could have possibly stolen money from the borough, they indicated trust in that person might have played a big roll.

When they learned about the alleged theft, Walker said, “our chins all dropped. I think we all practically fell off our chairs.”

No members of the public attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Wydo-Streit, 42, of 207 N. Vine St., Carmichaels, was charged by state police June 28 with 89 counts each of forgery and theft by unlawful taking. Police said she allegedly wrote herself 89 unauthorized checks between July 27, 2012 and Aug. 15, 2016, totaling $74,965.

Borough officials first learned of the situation in September when Carmichaels police Officer Mike Gyurke attempted to cash his paycheck, but the bank had frozen the borough’s account, according to the criminal complaint.

He contacted Wydo-Streit, who told him she would take care of it, Gyurke told state police. Gyurke said he later talked to Wydo-Streit and she told him she was going to be honest with him and said, “I stole the money.” She made similar statements to the borough solicitor Grimes and to others.

The borough hired Cypher & Cypher to performed a forensic audit, that revealed the missing funds.

Wydo-Streit faces a preliminary hearing on the charges before District Judge Lee Watson at 11 a.m. on July 20. She remains free on $7,496 bond.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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