For second time, North York ordered to turn over fire company audit

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Liberty Fire Company Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

For the second time this year, North York has been ordered to release the forensic audit of the now disbanded Liberty Fire Co.

The Court of Common Pleas denied on Thursday an appeal filed by North York. In April, the borough appealed the state Office of Open Records request to release the documents after both The York Dispatch and York Daily Record filed requests. 

"It is further ordered that North York borough shall, immediately and without delay, take all steps necessary to release the forensic accounting investigation report to respondents," a letter from Judge Clyde Vedder, who oversaw the case, reads.

North York now has 30 days to appeal the Court of Common Pleas decision or turn over the records. If the borough appeals, the case would move to Commonwealth Court.

Walt Tilley, solicitor for North York, declined to comment.

More:Right to Know: North York appeals state decision to turn over fire company audit

More:Office of Open Records orders North York to turn over Liberty Fire Co. audit

More:Charges against ex-fire chief send shock waves through North York Borough Council

The York Dispatch filed several Right-to-Know requests seeking the audit from North York in March 2020 and in January 2021. The borough denied the requests, claiming the audit was related to criminal and noncriminal investigations and therefore exempt from Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law.

The newspaper filed an appeal in January with the state Office of Open Records, which ruled in April that the borough did not establish that it conducted a criminal investigation and that it may not withhold an audit report under the Right-To-Know Law.

The York Dispatch will be represented by attorney Paula Burke, who is jointly representing the York Daily Record in the same case.

Stephen D. Miller, the former chief of North York's Liberty Fire Co., is accused of embezzling about $16,000 from the fire company.

North York officials commissioned the forensic audit of Liberty Fire Co. at the same time York County detectives were investigating former Fire Chief Stephen D. Miller, who was later charged with embezzlement.

In October, Miller, 58, of the 2700 block of Clearview Road in Springettsbury Township, was charged with the third-degree felonies of theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and receiving stolen property.

He is accused of embezzling more than $16,000 from Liberty Fire Co. between 2015 and 2019.

Miller now awaits trail, though a date has not been scheduled, according to court documents.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.