Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Did ten movie tickets lead to his undoing?

West Brandywine Township Manager Ronald A. Rambo, Jr. was charged on April 11 with fiddling with municipal funds, mostly in 2010. But it was ten unpaid movie tickets in February 2013 that prompted a call to county detectives.

Did ten movie tickets lead to his undoing?

 The alleged theft of $80 in tickets to movie houses in February 2013 may have tripped up West Brandwyine Township Manager Ronald A. Rambo, Jr., the police criminal complaint against him suggests.
Rambo was arrested and charged by the Chester County District Attorney’s office on April 11 with “misappropriating township funds” totaling $456.30. He is charged with two misdemeanors — forgery and theft by unlawful taking.
Six of the seven allegations involve falsifying medical expenses in 2010. But the seventh involves this year’s movie tickets.
The affidavit of probable cause, made public by the District Attorney’s office, states that “Rambo said he and his wife earn approximately $160,000 per year, and that he does not need the money,” that he is accused of misappropriating.
“Rambo repeatedly said he does not know why he did it.”
The affidavit states that “Rambo said he was having financial problems in 2010 and that his mortgage increased from $2,200 to $2,800 per month.
“Rambo said that he had had a significant credit card debt at the time and was under a lot of job related pressure.”
On April 11, Rambo’s office assistant said that he was not available for comment on the Inquirer report of the arrest and charges.
Here is how the more recent story unfolded, according to the affidavit.
On Feb. 6, West Brandywine Police Chief Walt Werner told county detective Thomas J. Goggin<NO1>(CQ)<NO> that someone who worked with Rambo said “Rambo took a sheet of eight movie tickets from the office without paying for them.”
The accuser was a township employee who is unnamed in the affidavit but is known to Goggin.
On Mar. 18, that employee told the detective that “the township obtains movie tickets from Regal Cinema for the benefit of townshop residents. The tickets are shipped to the township and arrive in sheets of ten with “West Brandywine Township” printed on the back. The theater tickets are sold to residents for a discount rate of $8 per ticket.”
The township employee “said Rambo asked for a sheet of movie tickets on 2/06/1013. Rambo took the sheet of tickets and did not pay for them at that time,” and that “Rambo did not pay for the tickets as of 3/18/2013,” the date of the interview with the detective.
A second township employee has since “moved the tickets to a cabinet near the front window because it is closer to a security camera,” so the detective reported that that employee told him.
The April 11 affidavit states that on April 1, Goggin “asked Ronald Rambo if he paid for the movie tickets he removed from the township office. Rambo said he would check his records … On 4/03/2013 Rambo admitted that he did not pay for the movie tickets.”
The April 11 press release from District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan painted with a broader brush.
Noting that the “Township Manager has broad authority over financial issues for the township,” Hogan stated that Rambo “reviews and approves employee remimbursement requests, even when the employee reimbursement request is submitted by the Township Manager himself.”
For the most part, Rambo was accused of falsifying reimbursements.
When Hogan’s county detectives looked into the Rambo matter, they “were advised that the defendant had been confronted with prior instances of misappropriating funds and had agreed to repay the Township, but then continued to misappropriate funds.”
— Walter F. Naedele.

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Aubrey Whelan
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