Councilman to resign amid charges he lied about 2014 crash

The Associated Press

LEBANON, Pa. — A city councilman is resigning following charges he filed a false accident report and repeatedly changed his explanation for what happened.

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Lebanon councilman Tony Matula, 59, faces charges including insurance fraud, false reports to law enforcement and hit and run, The Lebanon Daily News reported.

Police say he reported in June 2014 that someone hit his car, which had been parked outside his home. Investigators questioned his story based on the evidence they gathered, including damage to his car and a nearby utility pole.

Police say he later changed his story and said his friend’s husband fell asleep at the wheel and hit his car.

Matula then changed his story again and said a friend moved the car without his knowledge and hit the pole. She corroborated the story, then recanted and said Matula asked her to lie.

Police say Matula then admitted he hit the pole and submitted a fraudulent hit-and-run insurance claim.

Matula, a councilman since 2010, said he had a lapse in judgment that resulted from him wanting to hurt his insurer for high rates he has been paying following two previous accidents.

“I accept the fact that I made a false report,” he said. “I understand the implications that go with it, and I accept them. I regret doing it. There was no malice or intent to hurt anyone.”

Mayor Sherry Capello said Matula’s resignation could become official as early as Thursday.