Theft Rattles Nerves in Noxen

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NOXEN -- The treasurer of a fire company in Noxen is accused of stealing $34,000, most of it over a five-week period.

People in Noxen say for a small volunteer fire company like theirs, $34,000 goes a long way. That's why Chief Lew Hackling was shocked when he realized that much was missing from the department's funds.

"A lot of members, they spend their own time away from their family, away from their kids' ballgames, hockey games or whatever, and it's a betrayal," said Noxen Volunteer Fire Chief Lew Hackling.

Last week, the fire company's former treasurer was charged with theft and forgery. Robin Gorton-Parrish, of Luzerne, is accused of writing checks to herself, using the fire department's ATM card, and not depositing funds.

The fire chief says Gorton-Parrish was a treasurer at the department for two-and-a-half years. But he says most of the $34,000 she's accused of stealing was taken in just a five-week period.

"We have policies and procedures in place that we caught it that quick and put an end to it," Chief Hackling.

Chief Hackilng says some of the money she took came from the company's biggest fundraiser, Noxen's annual Rattlesnake Roundup. Brianna Allen of Harveys Lake goes to the roundup every year.

"That's horrible. That is just. It makes me so sick to my stomach because they really do put forth a lot of time and effort and they don't have to do this. They're volunteer," said Allen.

According to court papers, when Chief Hackling asked to see Gorton-Parrish's checkbook, she apologized and said she had a gambling problem. Cathie Pauley of Noxen helps with the Rattlesnake Roundup every year.

"There's no excuse. No one has an excuse. There's no excuse. You don't steal. You don't steal from people who are working their butt off for the community. You don't steal," said Pauley.

Gorton-Parrish is out on bail. She has since been let go from the Noxen Volunteer Fire Company.