Woman pleads guilty to taking money from fire company

A Grassflat woman pleaded guilty Monday to several counts of theft for taking more than $43,000 from a local fire company while serving as their treasurer.

Brittany Nicole Bell, 31, was sentenced by Judge Paul Cherry to 90 days to one year in the Clearfield County Jail, as well as two consecutive years probation for three felony counts of theft by unlawful taking and 60 misdemeanor counts of theft.

To date she has paid $30,000 of the $43,136.60 in restitution owed to the fire company.

Bell was accused of purchasing items and using the fire company debit card for her personal use, beginning in May 2014.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, police were contacted Nov. 19 by Bill Gaines, the president of the Winburne Volunteer Fire Company. He said there was a large sum of money missing from the general fund. After they received a notice from their property insurance company that the insurance was going to be canceled for non-payment, Gaines, along with other fire company officials, went to the bank, where they learned the debit card for their account was assigned to Bell. The bank gave them a list of the purchases and ATM withdrawals from Feb. 2015 through Nov. 19, which was more than $17,000.

Bell was then called by police and asked about the missing funds. She responded that there was no problem with the money.

About 20 minutes later, she arrived outside the fire company. She started crying and told the officer, “I did it. I am not going to lie to you.” She told them she was sorry but she needed help when she lost her job.

A review of the accounts determined she had taken $43,136.60.