The longtime manager of Northampton Township was charged yesterday with stealing more than $67,000 from the Bucks County municipality.

D. Bruce Townsend, 55, is accused of using township credit cards to buy personal items ranging from groceries and videos to computer equipment and hotel rooms.

Those thefts, which allegedly began in late 2001 and continued through last year, totaled more than $58,000, according to a criminal complaint. He also stole more than $4,900 in petty cash, and transferred sick time into vacation days, an additional $4,100 loss for Northampton, the documents say.

Townsend is expected to surrender today on charges of felony theft and other offenses, Bucks County District Attorney Diane Gibbons said.

The Holland resident had been the township's manager for more than 25 years. He resigned from his $107,000-a-year job in November, after the allegations surfaced and Townsend admitted taking at least $13,000.

"It was a shock to the entire community," said Peter Palestina, chairman of the township Board of Supervisors. "He told us that he had gotten a call from the D.A.'s Office. He told us of his wrongdoing at the time, was apologetic about it, and that's the first all of us heard about it."

Gibbons said that in 2003, Townsend had helped her office investigate a Northampton police officer accused of stealing gas from township pumps.

"You have to have a system of checks and balances, because you never know who would do this," she said. In interviews with investigators, Gibbons said, Townsend "made a reference to the fact that it was easy."

Township officials have hired a forensic accountant to study whether procedures should be changed, Palestina said.

Townsend could not be reached for comment late yesterday. A call to his attorney, William Goldman Jr., was not immediately returned.

Contact staff writer Larry King

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