Two former Bald Eagle Township officials charged with Public Corruption

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Two former Clinton County public officials were charged Thursday on a range of charges related to misusing their offices for personal gain.

44 year old Michelle Walizer, the former Bald Eagle Township Secretary/Treasurer, is accused of writing 16 checks, totaling more than $76,000, from the township’s general fund to herself. An investigation by the state Attorney General’s office found she allegedly entered fraudulent information into the township’s accounting software and created fake invoices indicating the funds were paid to contractors for services never rendered.

She’s also accused of filing a false certification with the Federal Surplus Program that a FEMA travel trailer was used by the township for 18 months when she knew it was never used for township purposes.

That trailer, according to the investigation, was used by former Bald Eagle Township Board of Supervisors Chairman, 78 year old James Bechdel, Sr. of Mill Hall. He’s accused of fraudulently obtaining the travel trailer, which had not been available for public sale, for his brother’s private use from the Federal Surplus Program.

Welizer, who lives in Lock Haven, is charged with 16 third-degree felony counts each of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, forgery, tampering with public records and related misdemeanors.

Bechdel is charged with one count each of conflict of interest and statements of financial interested to be filed, both misdemeanors.

Both surrendered themselves to authorities Thursday and were charged.

The case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office after it was initially referred to that office by the Clinton County District Attorney and the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission.

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