Former Pennsylvania Firefighters Charged With Theft of FD Funds to Fund Lawsuit Against FD

Two former volunteer firefighters who sued their fire department for expelling them, have been arrested and charged with theft for using fire company funds to pay the attorney they retained to file their lawsuit.

Detectives from Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office charged Robert S. Forish, 58, and Fabian Giovannagelo, 65, with stealing $21,000 from the Goodwill Hose Company in Latrobe. The funds were used to pay the legal fees of the attorney who is suing the fire company over the termination of five members including Forish and Giovannagelo. More on that lawsuit here.

According to TribLive, Forish is a city councilman in Latrobe, plus he served as the treasurer of the Goodwill Hose Company at the time the checks were issued. Citing Detective Randy Gardner, the TribLive claims Forish issued and Giovannagelo co-signed checks of $5,500 on May 30, 2020, $5,500 on June 24, 2020, and $10,000 on July 10, 2020 for the attorney’s fees. According to Detective Gardner, the fire company did not vote to approve the payments, prompting the charges against Forish and Giovannagelo for theft, theft by deception and misapplication of entrusted property.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 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) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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