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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • PayPal donations investigated

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  • LAKE ARIEL - The president of the Lake Ariel Fire Company, Aaron Joseph Rossignol, was charged Monday with using fire company fuel credit cards for personal use. State Police, Honesdale, alleged that over $8000.00 was charged to the Lake Ariel Fire Company over a nine-month period.
       According to Trooper John Strelish, Rossignol, who is age 36 and from Lake Ariel, was charged in District Court with Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Receiving Stolen Property and Access Device Fraud. The time of the alleged incidents was between April 25, 2011 and January 22, 2014.
       State Police, Honesdale is also currently investigating the PayPal account where donations can be made to the Lake Ariel Fire Company from their website. The State Police is requesting that if anyone has made a donation to the Lake Ariel Fire Company using the PayPal account to please contact the Honesdale barracks at 570-253-7126.
        The PayPal investigation was referenced on the same police public information report about the charges filed against Rossignol. He had not been charged in connection with the PayPal account.
        Lake Ariel Fire Company issued a statement that says Rossignol has had his membership revoked and he is no longer permitted to be a member of the company both now and in the future.
    ••• Many inconsistencies
        As stated in the the affidavit filed by Trooper Strelish, the fire captain of the Lake Ariel Fire Company, Joseph Delorenzo, at the company meeting on February 10, 2014, noticed that the fuel bill for the month of January was a lot higher than usual. Delorenzo requested the fuel statement for January, which he then reviewed. Police said that this review revealed many inconsistencies with the bill. The Lake Ariel Fire Company had responded to 18 calls for January 2014 and the amount of fuel being used did not match with the calls.
       Lake Engine 3 had not left its assigned station for the month of January but had been fueled three times, according to the statement.
         Delorenzo then requested all of the fuel statements for 2013. State Police said he noticed the same inconsistencies with the monthly fuel bills for 2013. He brought this to the attention of Michael Dipierro, Lake Ariel Company Chief.  Delorenzo inquired about the credit card labeled the Station Card, which was used numerous times throughout 2013. The Station Card was assigned to Chief Dipierro, but Dipierro had never used the card and didn't even know the PIN to the card, said State Police.
        Lake Ariel Fire Company has their account with Highhouse Oil Co., Inc., to make fuel purchases for the fire company vehicles and equipment. The account includes nine credit cards: Lake Engine 1, Lake Supply, Lake Engine 2, Lake Rescue, Lake Engine 3, Lake Brush, Lake Tanker, Lake High Pressure and the Station Card. They each use the same credit card number.
    Page 2 of 2 -    Again according to the affidavit, Delorenzo was informed by Highhouse Oil Co. Inc. that Aaron Rossignol, the Company President, had duplicated cards made in March of 2013 and he had picked up these cards from Highhouse Oil Co. Inc.  Delorenzo brought the duplicate cards to the attention of Chief Dipierro, who indicated he did not know about the cards.
       Delorenzo reviewed the monthly statements for 2011 and 2012. State Police said that  Delorenzo noticed the same inconsistencies with the monthly bills as he did for 2013 and 2014. The extra charges to the credit cards started on April 25, 2011 until January 22, 1014. The total for fraudulent charges made on the fuel credit cards amounts to $8,330.62.
       State Police questioned Rossignol at the Honesdale station on March 9, 2014 about his alleged use of the Lake Ariel Fire Company fuel credit cards for personal use. Trooper Strelish said that Aaron Rossignol confessed to using the cards in 2013 and 2014 for personal use.
    ••• Company responds
        The remainder of the statement from the fire company reads as follows, "We have entrusted the state police with all of the information they have requested. Right now we must rely on the justice system to handle this situation as we move forward to help our community grow stronger.
        "We request the community stand behind the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Department as we adjust the bylaws and rules so this circumstance cannot happen again in the future.”
       The statement goes on to say that the department is working together to serve the community and is doing everything it can to keep the fire house running smoothly.
        "As a volunteer organization, the community is very important to us," reads the statement. "We believe our job is to serve each and every one of you to the best of our ability and to use the monies provided by the community members in a positive and helpful way.
        "We have regrouped as a fire company. We are confident that this matter will be straightened out and we are relying on both your faith in our new board of trustees and your continued support."
          A hearing before Central Court in Honesdale is set for March 26 at 9 a.m. Rossignol was released on $25,000 unsecured bail, set by District Justice Bonnie Carney.
       The Lake Ariel Fire Department web site lists Aaron Rossignol on the list of 2013 officers, as Company President, a Trustee and Assistant Chief, as well as President of the Relief Officers.
       (The Wayne Independent contributed to the article.)

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