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Former Ambulance Chief Receives Probation
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2024-03-06

            The former chief of the Gilbertsville Area Community Ambulance Service arrested last summer on theft charges has settled his criminal case. Last month, Garry R. Schmoltze, Sr., 69, of Lower Pottsgrove, avoided jail time by pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of access device fraud in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

            The county District Attorney's Office chose not to prosecute Schmoltze on 65 other criminal counts, including four felonies. Schmoltze received a sentence of two years probation following a June 9, 2023, arrest in Douglass Township.

            In advance of his guilty plea, the defendant repaid the full restitution amount to the victims, according to Kate Delano, the director of communications for the DA's office. She wrote in an email message that a similar arrangement is offered to all white collar criminals.

            During the Feb. 20 hearing, Judge Thomas M. DelRicci added several conditions to Schmoltze's sentence. They included an order to stay away from the service that he led for 14 years, according to a state judicial website.

            Schmoltze ended his employment at the Montgomery County Coroner's Office on Jan. 2, according to Megan Alt, the communications director for Montgomery County. He had worked there since 1998.

            Law enforcement officials claimed Schmoltze made illegal purchases with two credit cards. All counts date back to April 30, 2021, according to information posted on a state judicial website. They accused him of using his position for his personal benefit by using a company-issued Elan Visa Business Card for personal use.

            According to the police criminal complaint, he used the card to purchase medication through Express Scripts, home heating oil, firearms, testosterone supplements, security cameras, gun cases, military backpacks and "go bags," Roku streaming devices, and music through Amazon throughout 2021 and 2022. Overall, Schmoltze was accused of making 36 unauthorized purchases with the card at a total cost of $5,967.79 and has made no effort to pay GACAS for these unauthorized purchases.

            The purchases included sales from nearly two years ago from a Birdsboro arms business. Schmoltze allegedly made two separate purchases at Black Lab Firearms, for $355.04 and $473.29, on June 29, 2021, according to court records.

            Additionally, municipal police claimed he used an American Express credit card in his name that utilized the tax-exempt status of the ambulance service as a 501(c)(3) corporation to make unauthorized charges totaling $2,561.87.

            Schmoltze made no effort to pay for the unauthorized purchases made with the ambulance service-issued credit card, despite knowing the financial distress that the service has been under since at least 2019, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed June 7.

            On July 16, 2022, a Douglass Township supervisor notified a detective with the municipal police department of possible fraud that had been occurring with the ambulance service, located at 91 Jackson Road. The supervisor also informed law enforcement officials that Schmoltze, the service's chief since 2009, was allegedly involved in access device fraud and that service employees were also concerned for their safety due to multiple firearms and ammunition believed to be on the premises.

            After being denied access to the service's financial records, two of its officers broke into the office of its chief of operations during an overnight shift last summer. They discovered multiple credit card statements, receipts, guns and ammunition, EMS medical supplies and other items.

            Employees at the ambulance service voiced concern over the credit card activity found and recent changes at this facility. They also told police Schmoltze changed access on the key fob system to deny access to an office area employees were previously able to access, according to the legal document.

            During a meeting later that day at the ambulance building, treasurer Rochelle Gresh told the detective that Schmoltze transported the firearms, which are not permitted on the premises, to his residence for temporary safekeeping. Gresh also reported that Schmoltze made personal purchases utilizing the Visa card connected to the service.

            According to the treasurer, the service suffered from a lack of income. Gresh told investigators two separate PPP loans, totaling $170,000 kept it operational.

            The influx of money from Douglass Township stopped in 2019. It returned in the next year or two, but at a lower rate. In 2022, the township's board offered to assist the service with its financial shortcomings, possibly by way of inclusion with a fire and/or EMS tax.

            Five months earlier, after observing questionable credit card charges for approximately $1,500, Gresh verified a conversation with Schmoltze, who admitted to the personal charges and agreed to repay the debt in full. However, they were never paid, according to the legal document.

            On July 15, 2022, Schmoltze rejected a request by two service employees to "see the books." That night, the ALS coordinator and the bookkeeper gained access to his office by circumventing the locking mechanism. They claim to have discovered multiple credit card statements and certain receipts.

            They also observed military bags, quick-clot, tourniquets, people-moving devices, trauma dressings, splints, basic first aid supplies, handguns and ammunition, a drone, military-style binoculars, and fuel canisters. One of the employees questioned why the first-aid materials were not put on any of the ambulances, but rather were being stored in the locked office, according to the legal document.

            Six days later, three employees went through certain bills for the annual audit. They observed numerous transactions for EZ Script (not used by GACAS to purchase medicine), Wawa gift cards (not distributed to GACAS employees), Amazon purchases including Roku (streaming service), Suburban Propane (filling at both 91 Jackson Road and at Schmoltze's Lower Pottsgrove residence), men's XXXL underwear, size 13E men's boots, binoculars, drones, and bags. They also found an American Express account that was tax-exempt and that Schmoltze was the only authorized user, according to court paperwork.


 

 

 

 

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