Lewisberry Community Fire Co.'s last president is accused of damaging the fire station after the inactive fire company had already sold the building to Lewisberry Borough.
Dennis A. Beck, 44, of 450 Ridge Road in Newberry Township, is charged with second-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief. A preliminary hearing is currently set for May 16, according to court records.
Charging documents indicate Beck and others were preparing to remove large items such as appliances from the station's kitchen after the company no longer owned the building.
On Nov. 13, Newberry Township police officers went to the 105 W. Front St. station and ordered the members of the fire company to stop.
"The situation at that time was just to stop any other damage and to keep the peace," charging documents state.
Officers found "the big items" had already been removed from the kitchen and put in the garage, and the building had been damaged in the process, police allege.
Pipes, wires: Damage was mostly in the kitchen area, documents state; gas and drain pipes were cut and broken, electrical wires were cut and drywall was damaged.
It cost the borough's insurance company $2,680 to have the damage repaired, police said.
"Our position is that (Beck) directed all of the removals and did engage in some of the cutting and ripping of electrical lines, etc.," Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder said.
Officers tried to resolve the issue by convincing members of the former fire company to pay for the damage they allegedly caused, according to the chief.
"It just didn't work out," Snyder said, and charges were filed against Beck on April 19.
Civil matter? Beck's Carlisle-based attorney, Nathan Wolf, said the fire company also made unsuccessful efforts to resolve the matter. He said there's "certainly a question" whether the dispute should be in civil court instead of criminal court.
"Any damage that was caused to that building was unintentional and was done in the process of removing items that were honestly believed to be the property of the fire company and not the borough," he said. "Putting Mr. Beck up as the scapegoat for all the harm done was wholly inappropriate."
The company was relying on volunteers to pack up company property and move it from the station, he said.
No intent: "If there were errors in judgment made, there was no intent (to cause damage)," he said. "We're hopeful this will see some reasonable resolution."
Although the company no longer provides fire service, its charter is still in place and it still exists as an entity, Wolf said.
Travis Fuhrman, Lewisberry Fire Co.'s last chief, has said embezzlement -- allegedly committed by two former members -- sent the company into a tailspin. The fire station was sold to the borough by the alleged embezzlers as a way to pay back debt, Fuhrman has said.
Guilty plea: On April 19, former fire company president Jennifer Lou Cassada, 38, of 308 N. Third St. in Rio Grande, N.J., pleaded guilty to theft and related charges for the embezzlement.
She was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $11,815.52 in restitution, according to court records.
Her co-defendant, Markwood C. Albright II, 37, of 303 Harrisburg Pike in Dillsburg, has a pretrial conference scheduled for May 3. Albright was a former Lewisberry fire chief.
Hopes for merger: Some fire company members hope that if the company receives restitution and clears up the small amount of debt that still exists, there's a possibility of a merger into an active fire company in the area, according to Wolf.
"Then they would bring along with them much more than baggage," he said.
A significant amount of the company's equipment and apparatus remain in storage, Wolf said.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.