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Colwyn Fire Company Members Stole More Than $50K: DA

Authorities in Delaware County arrested three Colwyn fire company members, accused of stealing from their own department. NBC10’s Harry Hairston reports with why this investigation even began. (Published Monday, Dec. 21, 2015)

The chief, treasurer and fire company president of a Delaware County fire department conspired to steal more than $52,000 in cash from the volunteer service, prosecutors said Monday.

Colwyn Borough Fire Company chief Gary Brice, company president Betty Cellini and company treasurer Lauren Cellini face felony theft charges.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said 50-year-old Betty Cellini and her 29-year-old daughter, Lauren, would write checks to each other and cash them. Checks were also written to Brice, 49, who would in turn cash them.

Lauren Cellini withdrew more than $9,000 in cash as well, officials said.

Gary Brice, 49, the Colwyn Borough Fire Department fire chief, 50-year-old Elizabeth Cellini, the president, and her 26-year-old daughter Lauren Cellini, the treasurer, face felony theft charges.
Photo credit: Delaware County District Attorney's Office

Over a three-year period, $52,892 in taxpayer money is unaccounted for, according to prosecutors. Whelan said the number could go up as the investigation continues.

The women told detectives they would some times pay fire company bills with their own money and then write checks for reimbursement. Detectives, however, said they could not provide receipts or documentation to back up the claims.

The NBC10 Investigators first reported allegations of misspending by the fire company in March. Borough officials questioned thousands of dollars in bills for regular gasoline, despite the fact the fire vehicles run on diesel fuel. The questionable spending led the borough to withhold state funding from the fire company.

All three members had been suspended when the criminal investigation began.

Brice was arrested at his home Monday morning. He did not comment when asked to respond to the allegations.

Police have yet to take either Cellini into custody.

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