By Beth Brelje
Pocono Record Writer
WESTFALL TWP. - The former Millrift Fire Department treasurer accused of stealing $10,288 from the department is missing.
A nationwide bench warrant was issued on Nov. 5 for Massiel Edwards, 39, of Millrift by Judge Joseph Kameen, after she failed to appear Nov. 1 for jury selection for her trial.
The court has not seen Edwards since June 7, when she signed an application requesting a continuance of her trial.
The court sent mail to her Millrift home on Aug. 26, Oct. 24 and Nov. 12. Each time, the mail was returned and marked that Edwards had moved and left no forwarding address.
Edwards admitted to Eastern Pike Regional Police in October 2012 that she took the money from the department for personal use.
The alleged crime was discovered after fire department officials requested department financial records from the bank, noticed unauthorized ATM withdrawals and reported them to police.
An accountant examined the department’s financial statements and found that Edwards had also written some checks and that she had falsified the treasurer’s report, showing bills had been paid, when in reality, they had not been paid, according to a criminal complaint.
Edwards used the money to pay for her property taxes; had propane delivered to her home; paid electric bills to Orange & Rockland Utilities; a $500 Cablevision bill; $1,086 to Verizon Wireless for items and services; and withdrew cash on at least 20 occasions, police said.
In October 2013, Edwards’ attorney James P. Baron withdrew from the case. Edwards is going through a divorce and now goes by the name Massiel Lago.
Although she is not receiving mail in Millrift, someone using her likeness and the name Massiel Lago has had a presence online. On the fundraising website GiveForward.com, Massiel Lago organized an effort to raise $10,000 for a friend’s cancer treatment. The fundraiser deadline was in September, and $6,175 was raised.