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Press Release

Wilkes-barre Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Sentenced To Six Months In Prison For Stealing Department Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that John Yuknavich, age 51, former Chief of the Wilkes-Barre Township Volunteer Fire Department, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to six months in federal prison for stealing $45,000 from the fire department and Wilkes-Barre Township in the course of his duties as Chief of that fire department between 2008 and 2011.  Yuknavich was further ordered to serve six months of home confinement upon release from incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Yuknavich was responsible for ensuring the deposit of monthly funds received from Wilkes-Barre Township, as well as all other funds received either through charitable contributions or annual state aid received from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Yuknavich allegedly deposited only part of the monthly $3500 check received from Wilkes-Barre Township intended to pay fire department bills, and took the remainder of the check in cash, most of which he used for his personal benefit.

Federal law prohibits theft or intentional misapplication of $5,000 or more from local government programs that receive more than $10,000 in federal funds annually.

The Government also filed an additional sentencing agreement wherein Yuknavich agreed to resign completely from the Wilkes-Barre Township fire department and the Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Hall in all capacities, effective immediately.  He was also ordered to pay $45,000 in restitution.

The prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania State Police with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

Updated April 17, 2015