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Former Middletown Youth Club treasurer charged with theft of more than $10,000 from organization

Posted 10/23/14

The former treasurer of the Middletown Youth Club was charged on Thursday, Oct. 23 with stealing more than $10,400 from the club, according to authorities.

 

Elizabeth Hicks, 31, took the money from the club to conceal funds she was …

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Former Middletown Youth Club treasurer charged with theft of more than $10,000 from organization

Posted

The former treasurer of the Middletown Youth Club was charged on Thursday, Oct. 23 with stealing more than $10,400 from the club, according to authorities.

 

Elizabeth Hicks, 31, took the money from the club to conceal funds she was allegedly embezzling from her job as a manager of a convenience store in Highspire, Middletown police said in a criminal complaint filed with District Judge David Judy’s office.

 

 Following an investigation that has been going on since early August, Middletown police charged Hicks, of Aspen Street in Middletown, with theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and unauthorized use of an access device.

 

The club’s board said in a statement sent by e-mail to the Press And Journal that “we are saddened and disappointed by the actions and choices of Ms. Hicks. Once we discovered several discrepancies in the financial reporting we immediately contacted the Middletown Police Department and requested their assistance. They in turn conducted an investigation and were able to obtain evidence that confirmed our suspicions.”

 

Club President Christopher Hughes said the club has put in place of number of changes to better protect club funds. For example, two signatures will now be required on all checks going out on the club checking account, instead of just one, he said.

 

 Hicks was released on her own recognizance after she was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Kenneth Lenker of Steelton. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday, Nov. 5 before Judy.

 

The investigation into Hicks was launched after police were contacted in August by Hughes, who had become president of the Middletown Youth Club in May, according to the criminal complaint.

 

Hughes told police that Hicks had been writing checks from the club account to her place of employment, the Smith’s Gas Mart convenience store in Highspire, according to the criminal complaint.

 

Police said that Hughes was alerted to the situation by Sumil Dixit, owner of the Gas Mart, who wanted to know why “so much money” from checks drawn on the Youth Club account was going to his business.

 

Hughes and Dixit then put together that Hicks was both treasurer of the Youth Club, and manager of the gas station, police said.

 

Middletown police said Dixit told them that he believed that Hicks was stealing from his business, according to the criminal complaint. Dixit told police he was experiencing “a large deficit in his profits” from the gas station, so much that Dixit told police he was having to put “large sums of funds” into his business to keep it afloat.

 

Police said Dixit believed that Hicks was using money from the club to cover the deficit at the station.

 

The criminal complaint alleges that $12,000 was taken from the Youth Club, but lists seven different transactions – “not an all inclusive list,’’ the complaint says – documenting alleged theft totaling a combined $10,428.08. The transactions include four ATM withdrawals from Members 1st Federal Credit Union in July, and three checks written to the gas station in Highspire – two in July, and the most recent from Aug. 10.

 

Hicks had served as treasurer of the Middletown Youth Club since 2013, according to the criminal complaint. 

 

Police said Hicks turned over to them three boxes of items, a computer, numerous bank cards and several deposit books.

 

Middletown Police Sgt. Richard Hiester told the Press And Journal that police are continuing to investigate bank statements regarding Hicks that go back to April. Hiester has been working on the case on his own for months.

 

“It got to the point where I nailed down a number of things that I knew were theft-related” in order to be able to bring the charges against Hicks, Hiester said. 

 

Hiester said he expects the investigation into Hicks to continue for several more months. Hiester added that Middletown police plan to enlist the assistance of outside agencies, such as the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office and the state Attorney General, to assist in continuing the investigation.

 

Hicks did not return a phone call seeking comment. A lawyer listed in court documents as Hicks’ defense attorney did not return a phone call from The Press And Journal requesting comment on Hicks’ behalf.

 

Hughes, reached Thursday after Hicks was charged, said that Hicks was removed by the club as treasurer in September. The job of club treasurer is currently held on an acting basis by Jess Welsh, according to the Middletown Youth Club website.

 

Besides requiring two signatures on all checks, Hughes in a statement to The Press And Journal detailed several other steps the club has taken to prevent a repeat of the misappropriation of club funds. For example, the club will no longer have an ATM debit card.

 

Any money that is raised by the club will be counted by two board members, both of whom will have to sign off on the amount. The club will “strictly enforce” rules regarding required documentation of all funds that are raised from fund-raising events, including money from concession sales at games. The club will require more detailed accounting to be submitted by the treasurer. The club’s audit committee will submit a quarterly audit that will be turned over to the club’s accounting service.

 

The club plans to have the treasurer bonded from now on, and is “looking into” having all board members bonded as well, Hughes said.

 

Dan Miller: 717-944-4628, or danmiller@pressandjournal.com

 

 

 

Criminal Complaint Elizabeth Hicks