Forensic audit exposes theft from Birdsboro Fire Company, treasurer accused of stealing nearly $900K

Former Birdsboro Union Fire Company treasurer Kenneth Long has been charged following an extensive investigation by Berks County Detectives after members of the fire company reported hundreds of thousands of dollars removed from their accounts.

On Wednesday, January 18, 2023, the Berks County District Attorney Detectives were contacted by the Birdsboro Police department regarding a report of theft from the Birdsboro Union Fire Company. Members of the union reported that more than $500,000 dollars is suspected to have been removed from their accounts over an eight year period. Fire company trustees suspected that their treasurer, Kenneth Long, was the person responsible for taking the funds.

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Berks County Detectives assumed and initiated the criminal investigation into the missing money. As part of this investigation, numerous bank records were obtained, and a forensic accounting audit was requested to determine the amount of money taken from the accounts belonging to the BUFD.  

On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, Kenneth Long was interviewed by members of the Berks County Detectives. Detectives say Long admitted to utilizing fire company funds to support his gambling habit. They say Long also admitted to forging the signatures of other fire company members on fictitious treasurer’s reports for the purpose of concealing the missing money.  

On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, the results of the forensic accounting audit were provided to the Berks County Detectives. The audit revealed that between 2016 and 2023, Kenneth Long had stolen a total of $899,968.36 from various bank accounts belonging to the Birdsboro Union Fire Company.

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On Monday, August 14, 2023, the defendant was charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, and three counts of Forgery. A warrant of arrest was issued for Long by District Judge David Glass.  

On Monday, August 14, 2023, the Defendant surrendered to members of the Berks County Detectives. He was taken in custody and transported to the Berks County Sheriff’s Department Central Processing Center for processing and is awaiting his preliminary arraignment.

Statement from the Birdsboro Union Fire Company

“Recently our former Treasurer, Kenneth Long, was arrested and charged with theft and forgery from the fire department, totaling almost nine hundred thousand dollars. For many years, Mr. Long was a trusted member of our community and a brother firefighter. In January of this year, we were notified of some suspicious transactions by our financial institution.”

“After a brief investigation by our administration, we immediately contacted the police who worked with the county detectives and district attorney to investigate. We have fully cooperated with the investigation and have had an outside firm complete a forensic audit. To protect the case many of those details cannot be released at this time.”

“We have taken several steps to prevent this from ever happening again. We are updating our financial policies to be in line with industry best practices, we have been working with our municipalities to ensure that proper oversight is in place, and most importantly we have been making sure that this theft does not impact our ability to respond to emergencies in our community.”

“This has hurt our department and our volunteers deeply. This was done by someone who we trusted, someone who we trusted with the resources that the community entrusts to us. Our feelings of betrayal are exceeded only by our determination to ensure that nothing like this happens again.”

“In addition to our new internal financial controls and renewed municipal oversight, we will be making everything as transparent as possible. We want to eliminate any doubt that the contributions that the community makes go towards protecting our community and supporting our emergency response operations. As we can release more information, we will. Until then, please direct any questions to the District Attorney’s office and know that when you need us, we will be here.”

As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation, and the defendant, Kenneth J. Long is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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