A former tax collector has been federally charged with stealing over $300,000 in public funds. Since many of the checks that former Treasurer and Tax Collector, Melissa Arnold, received had been written out to her, Arnold simply deposited them into her personal account instead of the Township’s account. Although she has not yet been convicted, Arnold filed a plea bargain with the government and has agreed to pay back the full amount.
From 1995 to October 2009, Melissa Arnold was the Treasurer and Tax Collector for Spring Garden Township, York County. On October 16, 2009, Arnold appointed Township Manager Gregory Maust as deputy treasurer to take over her duties after police began investigating Arnold’s dubious banking patterns. On October 23, 2009, Pennsylvania State Police searched Arnold’s home and office seizing her bank account records, computers, credit cards, and monthly tax collection records after bank officials flagged her accounts due to suspicious activity.
Between January 4, 2008, and October 6, 2009, Arnold allegedly stole over $300,000 from citizen’s tax payments by altering the “for deposit only” stamp on Township checks. Since many of the checks had been written out to her, Arnold began depositing numerous checks into her personal account at Sovereign Bank instead of the Township’s account at Citizens Bank. Due to the increase in Township checks being deposited and withdrawn from Arnold’s personal account, bank officials at Sovereign Bank contacted the state police on October 7, 2009.
After a judge granted a motion from the York County District Attorney’s Office to freeze Arnold’s bank accounts in October 2009, the state police began cooperating with the FBI’s investigation into the stolen tax payments. On Tuesday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania filed criminal information against Melissa Arnold for the theft of more than $300,000 in public funds.
Submitting an insurance claim for the stolen funds, York County has received full reimbursement. After filing a plea deal with the prosecution, Arnold agreed to pay back the full amount to the insurance company. She has already paid part of the total amount due.
Subject to approval by the court, the plea agreement has not yet been accepted. If convicted, Arnold faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, a term of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
“There are a lot of good tax collectors, but it’s a system that should be looked at,” acknowledged York County President Commissioner Steve Chronister. “Maybe now’s the time.”