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.