2010-05-13 / Local & State

Franklin County Accountant Pleads Guilty

Joseph Runk gets 24 months probation
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

A Franklin County man appeared in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas this week for formal arraignment and entry of a plea to attempting to secure power of attorney over tax and payroll information of a Needmore business in August 2008.

Joseph Anthony Runk of 16715 Path Valley Road, Spring Run, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count each of forgery and deceptive or fraudulent business practices before Judge Angela Rosenberry Krom.

Represented in court proceedings by defense attorney David Keller, Runk was originally charged with one count each of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, misapplication of entrusted property of a government or financial institution; two counts of forgery; and three counts of theft by deception.

In the charging documents filed by investigating officer Trooper Angela Roher of the Mc- Connellsburg state police barracks, the trooper maintained Runk routinely overcharged a Belfast Township-based company for taxes over a four-year period that began in 2000 and ended in 2004.

The amount of overcharging during that specific time frame, Trooper Roher stated, has been estimated at $207,637.18. The money was in turn used for Runk’s own “personal use.”

In addition, the affidavit prepared by Roher alleged Runk attempted to secure power of attorney over the business’ tax and payroll information in August 2008. He did so by forging the name of the company president on documents that were sent to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which responded that the signature and declaration of the representative was “illegible and incomplete.”

Even though Fulton County District Attorney Travis Kendall pointed out Runk stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company, those charges would not be pursued in a criminal or civil court setting due to the time frame involved. Kendall further told the court that the victim in this case felt it was more important to have Runk admit his guilt in the matter and realized the accountant did not have the financial means necessary to make restitution.

Defense attorney Keller followed up on Kendall’s statements, reminding the judge that Runk denies the allegations regarding the stolen money. The missing money allegations should not be an issue, according to Keller, who added the case at hand involves forging a signature and sending a power of attorney form to the IRS.

Speaking on his own behalf, Runk stated he has had to live with his mistake the moment he sent the fax to the IRS. “I was dead wrong,” Runk told Judge Krom. “I stand before you and God.”

He concluded he has “basically retired from doing tax preparation” on a full-time basis and currently only has a handful of clients.

In hearing the comments given on May 11, Runk was ordered by the judge to complete a total of 24 months probation. He will pay $500 to the Fulton County Law Library, a $25-per-month supervision fee as well as court costs.

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