MOOSIC -- The former president of Greenwood Hose Company in Moosic pleaded guilty Monday to theft charges. The man, who was also a former borough councilman, admitted to stealing $400,000 from the department.
Members of the Greenwood Hose Company on Birney Avenue have stayed quiet since their former president, William Sweeney, was arrested and accused of stealing that money. On Monday, Sweeney entered his guilty plea and made a payment of more than $100,000 back to Greenwood Hose Company.
Sweeney never denied the allegations when state police first started investigating in February. Now he has officially pleaded guilty in front of a judge and admitted to stealing $400,000 from the Greenwood Hose Company in Moosic while he was president.
Sweeney admits to forging checks from the volunteer fire department and funneling the money to his business, Bitty Bill's Ice Cream in Moosic. He was charged in April.
Sweeney's attorney says he needs the ice cream shop more than ever. It's his means to pay the money back. Along with the guilty plea, Sweeney also made a hefty restitution payment in court of more than $100,000 about a quarter of what he stole.
"We've been working on it for some time. He's been working on it for some time. So, am I surprised? I'm pleased, that's a better way to put it," said Sweeney's attorney Bill Peters.
Peters wouldn't elaborate on where Sweeney got the money but said he has plans to pay it all back in time.
Sweeney resigned as president of Greenwood Hose Company when the investigation started earlier this year, resigned as a Moosic borough councilman a few months later, and may soon give up his freedom, too.
A judge told Sweeney to expect jail time when he's sentenced in a few months.
Sweeney says it all stems from a gambling addiction that got out of control.
"He's in treatment and he's following through with that treatment for his gambling addiction. He really just wants to get this behind him and looks forward to making whole the Greenwood Hose Company," Peters said.
No members of the Greenwood Hose Company sat in on the hearing in Lackawanna County but Sweeney's attorney says they'll soon see that $100,000 restitution check. Sweeney is expected to be sentenced in the next few months.
He could face a maximum of 14 years in prison.