Pa. AG takes action against former fire and ambulance organizations

Bryan Cohen May 29, 2012, 7:00am


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly's Charitable Trusts and Organization Section filed a civil legal action on Friday against several former directors and officers of defunct Adams County fire and ambulance organizations.

Aspers Fire Company, Aspers Volunteer Ambulance Inc. and the Aspers Volunteer Firefighters' Relief Association, as well as their officers, allegedly mismanaged the organizations, redirected official funds for personal use and wasted charitable assets.

Also named as defendants are board members Clair Showers and Barry Shealer; membership secretary Joyce Kuntz; secretary Edward Kuntz; president and fire chief Donald Haines; president Sherrie Haines; treasurer George Acevedo; vice president and treasurer Alberta Alexander; and president, fire chief and EMS captain Lewis J. Alexander.

Aspers Ambulance and Aspers Fire Company were founded to provide basic life support and fire protection services to residents in north central Adams County. The companies lost the authorization of their sponsoring municipalities in April 2010 and stopped providing protective services. The companies and their assets allegedly became an alter ego of Lewis Alexander and members of his immediate family.

Alexander and his associates allegedly diverted funds away from the purchase of a new fire truck, wasted charitable assets by paying and then abandoning a $10,000 down payment on a pump truck, applied for grant money to subsidize a personal boat, paid an individual's medical bills, signed at least 32 blank checks, co-mingled corporate assets and converted non-profit assets from the sale of an ambulance.

The officials also allegedly violated a cease and desist order issued by the Pennsylvania Secretary of State in August 2010 by continuing to operate raffles, bingo and other small games of chance and soliciting charitable contributions after the organization stopped providing services.

In addition, the officials allegedly used funds from the firefighter's relief association to pay legal bills and officials failed to protect the relief association's assets.

The petition for citation seeks a full accounting of all funds expended and received in the previous three years by the companies and a full accounting of all charitable contributions received from allegedly unlawful solicitations. The accounting must include all funds allegedly raised in violation of the August 2010 cease and desist. The action also seeks civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation, the termination of the non-profit corporate franchises for the companies and the liquidation of any assets. The liquidated assets would be directed to appropriate ambulance and firefighting services in nearby communities.

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