Audit report on Gary Foster referred to DA
WYSOX - A recent audit report by the firm Holman & Frenia, which accused township Supervisor Gary Foster of overcharging the township on three occasions last year, has been referred to the Bradford County District Attorney's Office for his review, the district attorney confirmed.
Meanwhile, Foster contested the findings in the report in an interview on Wednesday. "It's just a witch hunt," said Foster, who also serves as the township's roadmaster.
Bradford County District Attorney Dan Barrett said the report was recently referred to his office by the solicitor for Wysox Township, Jonathan Foster Sr. Barrett said his office is reviewing the report, and he said he has not yet made a decision on whether to conduct an investigation of Gary Foster on the basis of the report.
Jon Kulick, chairman of the Wysox Township supervisors, read a statement from the Wysox Township supervisors at their meeting on Tuesday, which discusses the report.
The supervisors agreed to forward the report "to the appropriate legal authorities for their review and determination on the proper disposition on this matter," the statement said, explaining the referral of the report to the District Attorney's Office.
Supervisors Kulick and Kenneth Whipp have discussed their concerns about Holman & Frenia's findings with Supervisor Foster, and "will continue to evaluate the employment activities of Supervisor Foster," the statement says.
"Pending a response from the appropriate authorities and receipt of additional information, Supervisor Gary Foster will continue to serve as roadmaster," according to the supervisors' statement.
Supervisors Kulick and Whipp could choose to relieve Gary Foster of his duties as roadmaster, but have no authority to fire him as a township supervisor, according to the township's solicitor.
Supervisors Kulick and Whipp "will continue to work with Roadmaster Foster and township Secretary Kurt Lafy to assure the township taxpayers that the issues raised in the accountant's report are resolved. The supervisors will disclose to the public the final resolution of the accountant's report when it is legally permissible," the statement says.
When Kulick and Whipp discussed the audit report with Gary Foster, Gary Foster disputed the findings in the audit, the statement says.
"The supervisors have no further comment on this matter at this time as it involves a personnel matter and/or potential litigation," the supervisors wrote at the end of their statement.
The audit was requested by Kulick and the late William Shoemaker, who was a Wysox Township supervisor at the time, because of some concerns about Gary Foster in his capacity as township roadmaster and as township supervisor, the statement said.
According to Holman & Frenia's report, Supervisor Foster charged the township for the hours he spent making two day trips to Harrisburg last year to conduct personal business.
Supervisor Foster also double-charged for two hours of work he did on a township job on May 29 on Allen Road, according to the report. Supervisor Foster was paid twice for the two hours, once by the township and a second time by a contractor who was hired by the township, Jeff McInstosh Trucking Inc., according to the report. Holman & Frenia said it found no wrong-doing by Jeff McIntosh Trucking.
In addition, Holman & Frenia stated that it could not locate 100 feet of 6-inch pipe that Gary Foster had ordered, which disappeared within days after being delivered to the township on April 20.
In an interview on Wednesday, Gary Foster said the trips to Harrisburg occurred before Kulick and Whipp took office, so they did not have direct knowledge of what happened.
Gary Foster said that one of trips occurred in the fall of 2011, when he went to Harrisburg and purchased a roll of cable costing over $100 to replace the guard rail on Glen Road, which was washed out during Tropical Storm Lee.
He said that during the other trip to Harrisburg, he renewed the license for his personal dump truck. In addition to renewing his license, he also stopped by the Pennsylvania Property Division Surplus Store in Harrisburg to purchase steel to use for various purposes for the township, such as repairing snowplow blades. However, the steel wasn't available in shorter pieces than 20-foot-long sections, which wouldn't fit in his pickup truck, so he didn't buy any of it, he said.
He said the 6-inch pipe in question was installed along Fall Run Road as part of a township project.
He said the additional pay he received from Allen Road job amounted to $28.
He said he had saved the township a lot of money in various ways, such as arranging to have a $400,000 repair done by Chesapeake Energy on Glen Road to address damage caused by flooding in 2011.
Holman & Frenia's report was delivered to the township on Jan. 11.
Jonathan Foster is not related to Gary Foster.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.