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LACKAWANNOCK TOWNSHIP State police probe tax collection



Published: Wed, August 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tax Collector Barbara Estman resigned Monday.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. -- When reports and money from the Lackawannock Township tax collector didn't show up on schedule, the West Middlesex School Board began to ask questions.

Those questions led to a state police probe of the tax collector's records that is now under way.

No one is saying it's a criminal investigation at this point, but both school and township officials say the Mercer County district attorney's office is involved in the probe.

Albert Jones, West Middlesex superintendent, said that when the required reports and tax money didn't come in on schedule recently, it was natural for the district to begin asking questions.

Lackawannock Township is a part of the school district and gathered about $800,000 in real estate and per capita taxes for the district last year.

On Monday, the tax collector, Barbara Estman, resigned but declined to say why.

She said no one asked her to step down. She also denied any knowledge of an investigation into her office.

Attorney Thomas Kuster, township solicitor, said the school board initiated the investigation and the township learned of it Aug. 2.

Accepted resignation: The supervisors felt it was in the best interest of the township to accept her resignation and immediately appointed Iva Kerrick, township secretary, as interim tax collector.

Both Kuster and Jones declined to comment on the possibility of missing tax money, noting that the district attorney's office has asked them not to comment on details of the investigation.

Jones said the tax office, an elected position, is bonded, which means any lost funds would be covered by insurance.

He said the district has never had any complaints about Estman's service. She has served as township tax collector since 1987.




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