A local fire department denies being connected connected to a regional towing company owner arrested and accused of fraud last week spoke out yesterday morning.
The accusations made by Pennsylvania State Police officials against Mohney’s Towing owner Max Mohney include a fraudulent $800 charge for traffic control by Kittanning Township volunteer firefighters after a March 2015 commercial coal truck crash along Route 422 – a fee Kittanning Township Fire Chief Steve Baker confirmed never was invoiced.
“We never turned anything in – (Mohney) gave us a donation at that time,” Chief Baker said. “He was going to sponsor a gun on our (drawing) ticket and we just assumed it was for the gun and the rest (of the donation) was just for helping out at various accidents.
“We’re not permitted by law, and we never turned an invoice in.”
Chief Baker said volunteer firefighters “survive by fundraising.”
“We totally support ourselves,” Chief Baker said. “Last year, we took it upon ourselves (to raise) $400,000 for a truck for the lower end of the township, the substation (in Shay), after the truck was 32 years old. We had a hard time finding parts for it (so) we applied for various federal grants numerous times and were turned down – that alone is $1,000 bill a month we pay.
“To be tied into something like this is very disturbing because the ladies and men of this fire department work very hard to do things the right way.”
The new truck – a 2015 Ford F-550 mini-pumper – replaced a 1982 GMC. It costs firefighters about $1,000 per month for the next nine years.
Kittanning Township volunteer firefighters continue fundraising through their Fall turkey dinners – which are held the second Sunday of each month and served more than 500 people earlier this month. Weekly BINGO, jewelry bashes, flea markets and other fundraisers are also on the schedule to help pay electric, gas and fuel costs – not counting regular apparatus bills.
Volunteer firefighters are looking forward to annual state grants to purchase firefighting equipment. Kittanning Township hopes to use their portion toward debt reduction.
The fraudulent claims to insurance companies for traffic control by Kittanning Township and Rayburn Township volunteer firefighters led to four third-degree felony charges among the 20 in total assessed against Mohney.
An emergency towing list of pricing Mohneys Towing provided the Kittanning state police barracks in December 2014 indicated the fraudulent charges surpassing $18,000.
While Mohney was released on his own recognizance last week at arraignment, a preliminary hearing is scheduled for the beginning of October.