3 Colwyn Borough Fire Company members charged in $90,000 theft of public funds

     Three top officials of the Colwyn Borough Fire Company are charged with stealing public funds. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Three top officials of the Colwyn Borough Fire Company are charged with stealing public funds. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Three members of the Colwyn Borough Fire Company have been charged with stealing the public funds intended for the tiny town’s volunteer fire department, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan.

    Chief Gary Brice, President Elizabeth Cellini, and her daughter, Treasurer Lauren Cellini, all face felony charges of  “theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, and receiving stolen property,” according to Whelan.

    colwyn fire department theftColwyn Borough Fire Company officials (from left) President Elizabeth Cellini, her daughter, Treasurer Lauren Cellini, and Chief Gary Brice face felony theft charges. (Photos provided by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office)

    Last month, detectives with the district attorney’s office raided the volunteer fire department’s offices after hearing from former borough manager Paula Brown. Brown complained that authorized expenses for electricity and firefighting equipment were going unpaid, while unauthorized checks were being signed by the treasurer, Lauren Cellini, to Brice and her mother.

    In the search warrant, the office also said that Brice is Elizabeth Cellini’s boyfriend.

    Last week, state Auditor General Eugene De Pasquale released his office’s compliance audit of the Colwyn Fire Company’s spending from January 2012 to December 2014. He found nearly $90,000 in public funds had gone to “undocumented or unauthorized” expenses. Those unauthorized expenses included $2,500 for cable television.

    The district attorney’s investigation found that public money also went to buy dog toys and dog food, although, according to Detective Michele Deery, the firehouse has no dog.

    Brice is in custody and the two Cellinis are expected to be arrested.

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