Former Township Manager Accused of Theft

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NEWPORT TOWNSHIP -- A former township manager in Luzerne County was in court Wednesday morning accused of stealing tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Richard Zika, 72, was charged with stealing more than $150,000 from Newport Township.

Police say the thefts happened while he was the township manager between August of 2008 and March of 2016.

According to authorities, Zika wrote himself checks from the township refuse account, labeling it as an administration fee.

Zika resigned from his position when the investigation began and now faces several charges in Luzerne County.

6 comments

  • Bill K

    EIGHT years of this abuse going on. Once again, I have to ask where were the audits? How could the theft go on this long without someone auditing the books and finding out? The township should share some blame here. The township has responsibility to the taxpayers to account for income and expenses. This is normally done by at least biannual audits. You don’t need a CPA on staff to do this. I’ve done it for small organizations before and it’s not rocket science.An organization like a township should have a CPA do a professional audit. I’d be willing to bet this would have been caught within a few months if regular biannual audits were held. If I was a taxpayer in that township I’d be wondering who else is doing this. I know, around here we all have the mentality “Oh, Bob would never screw us over like that, we can trust him, no need for the expense of hiring an auditor!” Oh yeah? Guess what? Bob just screwed you over and you’ll never get your money back. AUDIT YOUR BOOKS!!!!

      • Bill K

        Hi Rebecca – Just curious, does your township hire a CPA to audit? I audited for a small Church. I’d grab the bank statements, the cancelled checks and the invoices. Match them all up and look for discrepancies. Yes, it was a PITA and took a long time but it worked. Which method does your township use?

      • rebeccantsproductionscom

        My township has 3 elected auditors and does not contract an outside firm. This really surprises me as checks should have at least 2 signatures and any check written to a township employee other than normal payroll should get extra scrutiny just for issues like this. I don’t know the structure of Newport Township, but I believe all townships must complete a yearly audit according to PSATS regs. Newswatch 16 might do a bit of investigative reporting to see who signed the audits and what they showed, because $150K in checks over an 8 year time frame is a lot of money to miss, especially since the article says this man was writing checks to himself – that’s a huge red flag.

      • rebeccantsproductionscom

        Also, Bill K, we use representative sampling, but review all checks written to township employees other than payroll to make sure there is a legitimate reason. Every payment must have backup and a legitimate/approved business reason for payment. Sorry I missed that – no way to edit!

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