Ex-NJ fire company leader admits stealing funds

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - September 15, 2010

Forty-five-year-old Charles Mancini III of Wenonah pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Camden to a charge of theft from programs receiving federal funds.

Court documents show this all began back in 2006, when Mancini obtained a $90,000 line of credit for the the New Sharon Fire Company in Deptford Township without authorization and claimed most of it for himself.

"He left a paper trail that was just unbelievable; instead of using our actual company checks, he was getting over the counter checks," Fire Company President Rob Dessin said.

Then in December 2008, when disaster struck the firehouse, Mancini allegedly cashed in again.

Action News covered the blaze that ripped through their own firehouse on Delsea Drive. The fire company received $448,990 in insurance proceeds to repair the house, but again court documents explain Mancini diverted the proceeds for personal use, writing checks to himself.

Dessin declined to say what Mancini spent the money on.

"He didn't have gambling habits, he didn't have drug habits, he just spent it for his own pleasures," Dessin said.

The documents show he worked to conceal the embezzlement and theft with false bank statements.

The fire company is still without a house, but believes justice is being served.

"It felt to good to stand here and actually watch him admit to what he did to us and kind of made us feel a little better inside, not that it's going to help cause we're not going to get the money back," Dessin said.

He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he's sentenced Jan. 4, although the actual penalties are likely to be less under federal sentencing guidelines.

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