Thefts from Nonprofits Becoming More Common

DURYEA, Pa. — Another fire company treasurer has been charged with stealing money, this time in Luzerne County.

It’s the latest in a string of similar thefts from nonprofits across northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

Police said Eric Wruble, 42, of Duryea was writing checks to himself and depositing them right into his own bank account.

He is accused of stealing more than $130,000 over 10 years.

“It’s an everyday practice now. You find all these small places. It’s easy to steal,” Paul Gavin of Pittston said.

According to court papers, Wruble told police he took the money because he was unemployed and needed to pay for his family’s hospice and cancer treatment.

“Real out of character. He seemed like a real nice guy when I knew him,” Lenard Fortini of Duryea said.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said thefts from nonprofits are getting to be more common and widespread.

In 2014, the former treasurer of the Noxen Fire Department in Wyoming County was sentenced to four years in prison for swiping $34,000.

In Lackawanna County, a former bookkeeper of the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter is accused of pocketing $12,000.

In Luzerne County, the former treasurer of the Exeter Hose Company pleaded guilty to stealing $67,000 from the department.

“It really is upsetting. People donate to these organizations to help others, and they’re taking advantage of their trust,” Salavantis said.

However, there are ways for nonprofits to protect themselves.

“Checks and balances are important. You want to have a separate treasurer, president, vice president, different people that are overseeing the books. If you have checks, you have two people signing off on checks,” Salavantis said.

Salavantis also warns nonprofits to never leave any blank checks signed ahead of time. She said that is one of the easiest ways for theft to go unseen.

Wruble is locked up in Luzerne County on $50,000 bail.

A prior version of this story incorrectly indicated that the treasurer at the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter had been charged.

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