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Douglass (Mont.) Township Supervisor Arrested
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Correspondent

        Frederick W. Ziegler, a supervisor in Douglass (Mont.) Township, faces eight felony counts from multiple alleged criminal incidents during a 15-month period.

        Ziegler, a former chief of the township's police department, was arrested Tuesday and faces four felony counts each of conflict of interest and accepting improper influence between August 2012 and November of 2013, according to information posted on The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Web Portal.

        A criminal complaint filed Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Attorney General accuses the elected official of 22 counts, including seven misdemeanor counts each of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.

        Ziegler, 61, did not attend the township's board of supervisor's public meeting Tuesday. Chairman John Stasik, Jr. announced that he did not hear from Ziegler about his attendance.

        Authorities allege that Ziegler stole a chainsaw purchased with township funds, made four unauthorized purchases with the municipal gas card, took a 100-pound propane tank and used plywood purchased with township money for yard signs for his reelection campaign.

        On Aug. 9, 2012, Ziegler allegedly instructed a township employee to purchase a new chainsaw for the municipal's road crew to use, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed Tuesday.  It states the employee, following the order of the supervisor, delivered the chainsaw to Ziegler at his home.

        Ziegler allegedly never did pay for or return the saw, which cost $314.96, according to authorities.

        In October of 2013, a township employee purchased the propane filled tank for $200 for the highway crew to use, according to the same document.

        It states that the employee gave the same tank to Ziegler, telling authorities that Ziegler was his boss, and he writes the paychecks and can fire him as well so he does what he is told.

        According to the criminal complaint, Ziegler told the employee he wanted to use the tank at his hunting cabin in New York "to see if it works better than his 50-pound tank."

        In October, November and December of 2013, Ziegler allegedly made four unauthorized purchases with a township gas card totaling more than $340.

        Prior to those purchases, township treasurer Cynthia O'Donnell noticed two irregular uses of a township gas card from the previous month by Ziegler, according to the information.

        It states that municipal Manager Pete Hyriak authorized Ziegler to use the card to put gas in his personal vehicle on Aug. 7 and Aug. 23.

        The manager, at the behest of O'Donnell, explained to Ziegler that he needed to follow the township procedures to be reimbursed for using a personal vehicle. However, Ziegler responded by saying he did not "have time to keep track of his mileage and submit reimbursements for gas," according to the complaint.

        On Nov. 4, Ziegler directed a township employee to pick up five sheets of plywood from A. D. Moyer Lumber Company to be used for political signs on Election Day, according to the document.

        It states that Ziegler did not pay for the plywood, delivered to his home after it was purchased and brought back to the township, which cost $48.75.

        Township officials initiated an investigation in October of 2013 before sending it to the detectives unit of the Montgomery County District Attorney's office on November 12, according to the manager.  Bauer announced at the June 16 public meeting that the county office referred the case against Ziegler to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.

        The solicitor also said that he had been informed of the referral by Templin. After the meeting, Templin confirmed that Kevin Steele, the first assistant district attorney of Montgomery County, told him of the referral on June 5 or 6.

        County law enforcement officials had the ability to investigate the case against Ziegler, a former chief of the township's police department who has also worked in the county's Extradition Unit, according to Bauer.  He said the office, headed by District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, chose to refer the case to the state attorney general.

        Ziegler was arraigned Tuesday evening by District Judge Maurice Saylor, who set bail at $5,000 unsecured, according to information posted on the website.

        A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. before Saylor, according to court papers.





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