WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP — More theft charges were filed Wednesday against a fire chief in Luzerne County.
Troopers accuse John Yuknavich of stealing nearly $50,000 from Wilkes-Barre Township starting in 2008.
Yuknavich has been in and out courtrooms over the past three years for PFA and DUI cases. A trial on theft charges was postponed before it started in February.
On Wednesday morning, Yuknavich was arrested again following another audit by detectives.
State police led John Yuknavich into an arraignment on theft charges. From 2008 to 2012 Yuknavich accepted around $48,000 worth of checks from Wilkes-Barre Township. Troopers say the chief never deposited many of the checks into the volunteer fire department’s back account. The money was supposed to pay for utilities, the mortgage on the fire hall, and new fire equipment.
A district judge released Yuknavich without having to post bail. He left in a friend’s pickup truck.
“We’ll straighten it all out. No biggie,” he said.
In February, a county judge indefinitely suspended a trial on another theft case. At that time, Yuknavich was accused of using about $11,000 from the fire department for personal purchases.
“There’s no one to take that position away from him. He’s the fire chief and the only one who can step down is himself. There’s no board. They don’t have minutes, they don’t have meetings,” said Joe Naperkowski of Wilkes-Barre Township.
Naperkowski claims after he spoke up about concerns with the fire department’s finances, Yuknavich put a security camera on the roof of the fire department. Naperkowski says the camera is pointed at his backyard and many of his neighbors are afraid to speak out against the chief.
“The mayor keeps saying he has nothing to do with the firehouse or John yuknavich. So where do we go next?”
Wilkes-Barre Township’s mayor and solicitor did not return our calls.
Luzerne county prosecutors say the first theft case against Yuknavich is still tied up in appeals.