The Shenango supervisors fired township secretary/treasurer Brian Tanner and terminated auditor and consultant Deno DeLorenzo last night.
The two men are under investigation in the alleged theft of nearly a half-million dollars from the township. No arrests have been made.
At the special meeting, the officials named Supervisor Al Burick III secretary/treasurer and two township secretaries, Denise Allwine and Mary Gay, assistant secretary/treasurers. All three will serve on an interim basis.
The township auditors will determine Burick’s wage at a meeting that has not yet been set. Whether the two secretaries will receive any additional pay will be determined later, the supervisors said.
Burick will take a leave of absence from his full-time job to fill the post, he said. He is employed at Augustine’s Italian Village, where he does accounting, finance and logistics. He has a degree in geographic information systems from Slippery Rock University.
The supervisors also hired Philip Weiner Co. as township accountant, pending acceptance of the appointment and negotiation of a contract.
All votes were unanimous.
More than 100 people crowded into the township building and an additional 30 stood outside for lack of room. Most waited through an executive session that lasted an hour and twenty minutes to see what action the supervisors would take.
Some expressed anger and disappointment with the supervisors, including calling for all three to resign.
Some residents expressed anger that Burick had been appointed interim secretary/treasurer, saying someone other than a supervisor should hold the post.
Township solicitor Louis Perrotta pointed out that Pennsylvania law provides that a supervisor can hold the post and there is no conflict of interest.
In answer to residents’ questions, Supervisor Russell Riley said Tanner had been bonded for $400,000 and DeLorenzo also had been bonded, through his business. However, Riley said he does not know the amount of DeLorenzo’s bond.
Riley also said Larry Herman — a former supervisor who had been defeated by Burick in his re-election bid last November — “is trying to help us” and has been in touch with investigators.
“I want everyone to know Larry is with us,” Riley said.
“There are no more stamps," he continued. "There never will be another stamp here. I assure everybody that it will never happen again."
Investigators from the Lawrence County district attorney’s office have alleged Tanner used a signature stamp for Herman on 224 checks that required two signatures — the secretary/treasurer’s and the supervisor chairman’s.
Those checks — that Tanner is alleged to have written to himself and DeLorenzo between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2013 — total $453,516.80, investigators said in court documents.
Saying he knows the residents are upset, Riley pointed out the supervisors are upset too. “We feel like we got stabbed in the back.”
Several residents criticized William Albertini, the supervisor with the longest length of service — over 10 years — who sat silent through the meeting while Riley and Burick answered questions.
When one resident accused him of “smirking,” he replied, “I don’t have a smirk on my face. It’s terrible that it happened."
When a woman asked him if he had had any idea over 10 years that money was missing, he replied, “No, I didn’t.”