Former Bald Eagle Township Officials Charged with Public Corruption in Clinton County

October 25, 2018 | Topic: Criminal

Former Treasurer accused of stealing more than $76k in cash

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the former Chairman of the Bald Eagle Township Supervisors, James H. Bechdel, Sr., and the former Bald Eagle Township Secretary/Treasurer, Michelle L. Walizer, are facing charges arising from a public corruption investigation by the Office of Attorney General after a referral by the Clinton County District Attorney and the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission.

“Former Bald Eagle Township officials Walizer and Bechdel are charged with trading their positions of authority and public trust for shameful personal enrichment,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “As Attorney General, I am focused on rooting out public corruption and will continue to pursue it wherever we find it – without fear or favor.”

Michelle Walizer, 44, of the 300 block of Wright Street, Lock Haven, is accused of writing 16 checks, totaling more than $76,000, from the township’s general fund to herself that she was not entitled to receive.  She then entered fraudulent information into the township’s accounting software and created fake invoices indicating that the funds were paid to contractors for services that were never rendered.

Walizer is also accused of filing a false certification with the Federal Surplus Program that a FEMA travel trailer had been used by the township for 18 months when she knew it was never used by the township. Walizer is being charged with 16 third-degree felony counts each of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, forgery, tampering with public records, and related misdemeanors. 

James Bechdel, Sr., 78, of the 300 block of Cottage Lane, Mill Hall, is accused of fraudulently obtaining the FEMA travel trailer, which had not been available for public sale, for his brother’s private use from the Federal Surplus Program. He is being charged with one count each of conflict of interest and statements of financial interests to be filed, both misdemeanors. Walizer and Bechdel surrendered to authorities and were charged today.

The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Philip McCarthy.

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