DUBOIS, Pa. (WTAJ) — The city manager for DuBois who is also executive director of the DuBois Area United Way was arrested and charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Attorney General Michelle Henry announced.
John “Herm” Suplizio, 62, allegedly committed $620,815 in fraudulent transactions involving city/public accounts to pay his personal credit card bills, make political donations, and gamble, Henry said.
The majority of funds allegedly came from accounts that were set up and connected with DuBois Community Days, an annual summer event presented by the DuBois Volunteer Fire Department, that Suplizio and his secretary were said to be the sole signatories of, according to the release from the Attorney General.
“Suplizio was a trusted public official who should have been acting in the best interests of his community,” said AG Henry. “Instead, he betrayed that trust by stealing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for his own personal use. This egregious violation of the trust Pennsylvanians put in their officials is disgraceful. Today’s arrest is a reminder that no one is above the law, and that everyone who holds public office in Pennsylvania is accountable to the people.”
A Grand Jury investigation found that, in addition to the fraud, Suplizio used his position as City Manager to enter into contracts with businesses for which he received personal benefits. From 2014-2021, Suplizio also provided false information on his tax returns, paying for numerous charges with public money and claiming those charges as unreimbursed expenses on his taxes.
According to the criminal complaint filed in court, Suplizio would receive reimbursement or things such as meals, gas, and his personal cell phone and then claim on his taxes that he was never reimbursed, leading to a much higher tax return every year.
The Solicitor to the City, Toni Cherry, Esq. told investigators that Suplizio never filed a reimbursement form in his entire 15 years, the complaint shows.
Alleged theft from public accounts as outlined in the affidavit of probable cause:
- City of DuBois General Fund Account – $3,000
- DuBois Area United Way – $21,293.30
- DuBois VFD Parade Committee Account – $99,108.40
- DVFD Flex CD Community Fund Account – $95,000
- DVFD Checking Community Fund Account – $46,243.54
Total Theft: $264,645.24
Alleged tax fraud associated with public accounts as outlined in the affidavit:
- City of DuBois General Fund Account – $26,077.56
- DuBois Area United Way – $20,640.00
- DuBois VFD Parade Committee Account – $56,894.77
- DVFD Flex CD Community Fund Account – $47,934.56
- DVFD Checking Community Fund Account – $204,623.67
Total Tax Fraud: $356,170.56
Total fraudulent transactions associated with public accounts as outlined in the affidavit:
- City of DuBois General Fund Account – $29,077.56
- DuBois Area United Way – $41,933.30
- DuBois VFD Parade Committee Account – $156,003.17
- DVFD Flex CD Community Fund Account – $142,934.56
- DVFD Checking Community Fund Account – $250,867.21
Total fraudulent transactions between 2014 and 2022: $620,815,80
Suplizio allegedly spent more than $100,000 between 2014 and 2021 at a casino in New York.
The affidavit shows that a fracking company was also paying the City of DuBois to use their water. During the investigation, it was revealed that Suplizio was also personally paid by the company creating a conflict of interest. Those payments totaled over $12,000 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Investigators said that Suplizio also used $300,000 of the alleged fraud funds to open a retirement account in 2018.
Suplizio was charged with five counts of theft by unlawful taking, one count of conflict of interest, one count of misapplication of entrusted property, and eight counts of fraudulent return.
Suplizio was released with unsecured bail set at $100,000. His current status with the City of DuBois and United Way is unknown at this time.
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This case was investigated by Trooper Jeffrey Walters and Trooper Eric Guido of Pennsylvania State Police Organized Crime Section in Erie, Special Agent Terrence Sweeney from the Office of Attorney General Financial Crime Section, the Office of Attorney General Public Corruption Section, and Detective Steven Kontaxes of the Fayette County Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Summer Carroll. All charges are accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.