Former Ridgway fire treasurer facing theft charges

The former treasurer of the Ridgway Volunteer Fire Department has been charged with the misappropriation of at least $14,500 over a 21-month period.According to the Ridgway Borough Police Department, Philip James McKay Jr., 59, of 403 W. Main St., Ridgway, was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge George King.McKay was charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and two counts of access device fraud, according to court records. The third-degree felonies reportedly were committed between March 2008 and November 2009.A comprehensive audit showed McKay allegedly misused $14,640.03 in department funds. The fire department sought legal advice at Shawn T. McMahon's law office in Ridgway; McMahon formally asked McKay on Oct. 11, 2010 to reimburse the department within 60 days.Documented proof that McKay tried to repay the debt indicated only four canceled checks totaling $941.60, according to court records.In a written statement to police dated March 31, 2009, McKay said, "I realize that the months of January, February and March show a total disregard for you and all members of the department. I used the card for personal use just to keep life going in what seems a normal line, I used it for food and a few necessities for my family," court documents show.The reported misappropriations total 155 and include cash ATM withdrawals, department checks written to "cash," check/debit card purchases and checks written to merchants, according to published reports.Court records show McKay disputes the total amount and claims there are some expenditures for which he is not responsible. He disputes roughly $5,000 of the total amount and reportedly told police during December 2008 that he mixed up his personal debit card with what he now believes was the equipment fund debit card because they were both the same color green, and he only realized the mix-up when he saw his bank statement at the end of the month.When police asked if he stopped using the card when he realized the mix-up, he reportedly said he did not stop using the card. According to police reports, he attributes the continued use to a recent diagnosis with early Alzheimer's disease, which includes lapses in memory, court records show.A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9 before King.