Pennsylvania Firefighter Sentenced To Prison For Theft-Related Arson

The two most common criminal offenses plaguing the volunteer fire service involve embezzlement of funds from the volunteer organization and arson. While both crimes are unfortunately all too common, a case out of Pennsylvania is quite rare: a firefighter who combined them both. William B. Verbeck, 63, is heading to prison for setting his own vehicle on fire to cover up his theft of fire company raffle proceeds.

Verbeck was sentenced on Tuesday to serve up to a year in prison for setting his pickup truck on fire on August 23, 2016. At the time Verbeck was delivering “Cash Bash” raffle tickets and cash to the Morris Township Fire Company. He claimed the tickets and the money were destroyed in the fire.

Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall Trooper David Powell investigated the fire but found no obvious case for the blaze. He also found no evidence of the tickets or the cash in the vehicle’s remains. He was successful in getting Verbeck to confess to starting the fire to cover the theft citing financial problems. Verbeck said he used a cigar to light some paper in the cab of the truck.

Under the terms of his sentence, Verbeck is required to pay restitution to the fire company for the money he stole and the bank for the balance he owed on the pickup.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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