Berks County judge accused of stealing more than $100K in separate thefts from court, fire company

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HARRISBURG, Pa.– Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s office today announced the filing of criminal charges against a Berks County magisterial district judge accused of stealing more than $15,000 from the court where he presides. The same man is also accused of stealing more than $90,000 from a local volunteer fire company.

Timothy M. Dougherty, 56, was charged today with multiple felonies following an investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

A statewide investigating grand jury recommended the criminal charges filed against Dougherty. The grand jury made its recommendations after reviewing evidence and testimony that showed Dougherty’s alleged thefts.

According to a presentment issued by the grand jury, investigators in October executed a search warrant at Dougherty’s district court in Wyomissing. The evidence seized during the search revealed $15,251 that was paid to the court was missing. The court routinely collects fines, restitution and court costs related to civil and criminal cases.

Although Dougherty, who had final authority over the court’s finances, eventually returned the money by making a single deposit of approximately $15,251, the deposit was made 20 days after Dougherty told investigators he was not in possession of the missing money. The deposit was also made a day before Dougherty was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury regarding the missing funds.

Dougherty is also charged with stealing $97,780 while serving as treasurer for the Wyomissing Volunteer Fire Company. The alleged theft occurred over a period of nearly seven years.

A review of the fire company’s bank accounts and treasurer’s reports submitted by Dougherty contained numerous discrepancies. Bank account balances listed in the treasurer’s reports often did not match the actual amount of money in the fire company’s accounts, according to the grand jury.

As part of this investigation, a forensic accountant reviewed Dougherty’s personal bank accounts and finances. That review showed Dougherty’s accounts often were overdrawn and he failed to pay his monthly bills, including his mortgage payment.

Dougherty had similar issues in his official capacity, according to evidence and testimony reviewed by the grand jury. The evidence showed Dougherty violated court procedures by failing to make daily bank deposits and also failed to timely submit monthly reports to the Berks County controller’s office.

The grand jury also reviewed evidence that originated in an audit prepared by the state Department of the Auditor General, which examined the finances related to Dougherty’s district court. Attorney General Kane thanked the office for its assistance with this investigation.

Dougherty, 1887 Brandywine Road, Wyomissing, is charged with five counts of theft by deception, two counts each of theft by unlawful taking and theft by receiving stolen property and one count each of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and conflict of interest. Dougherty is awaiting a preliminary arraignment.

The Office of Attorney General assumed jurisdiction of this matter following a formal referral by the Berks County district attorney’s office. This case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Michelle Laucella of the Office of Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section.

SOURCE: Attorney General’s office