Former club official accused of stealing almost $300,000

A former treasurer of the non-profit club, Gesang Verein Harmonia, located in the city, surrendered Wednesday afternoon to face felony theft-related charges for allegedly stealing nearly $300,000 from the organization during an eight-year period, according to the state police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.

With his wife and attorney in attendance, Ross A. Whitesell, 56, of 1180 St. Davids Road, was arraigned before District Judge Allen P. Page III on two counts of theft and one count of access device fraud.

“It is alleged that he stole or misappropriated over $297,000 from the club’s bank accounts and misused a club credit card” between October 2005 and late last year, an investigator said in a statement.

While serving as the treasurer for the club, Whitesell was paid $100 a month. He was to get other club officers’ approval for any club check written in excess of $1,000, court records state.

The club is at 332 E. Seventh St., between Penn and Franklin streets, just south of Washington Boulevard.

While police were conducting an “administrative investigation” in early February, they determined a lot of club checks were written to Whitesell for “maintenance, reimbursement and appreciation,” the court records state.

When investigators asked him if he had been using club fund’s for personal use, Whitesell initially denied it, police said. However, he admitted that he had borrowed some money, but was planning to pay it back, police said.

Whitesell told police that he had written some checks from the club’s general account in order to cover personal bills he got behind on, according the court records.

On Feb. 11, police obtained a search warrant to begin reviewing Whitesell’s bank records at the Jersey Shore State Bank. Three months later, police determined that Whitesell allegedly wrote numerous club checks illegally to himself totaling about $265,000.

Investigators learned last month that Whitesell also allegedly charged $32,500 on the club’s American Express credit card for “personal expenses,” police said.

No specific details were released on how Whitesell allegedly spent the money.

Whitesell’s defense attorney argued that his client be released on signature bail. However, Page rejected that motion, saying that the allegations were “serious crimes that occurred over a substantial period of time” and that they were “crimes of deceit.”

Whitesell was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.