HARRISBURG — The state Ethics Commission this week said it has ordered a former Bald Eagle Township supervisor to reimburse the township $5,000 for his purchase of a federal surplus trailer.
Notice of the discipline against Jack Bechdel was posted by the Ethics Commission on Thursday. Bechdel, a former Bald Eagle Township supervisor, along with his brother James Bechdel, had resigned from their posts in May after the ethics case came to light.
The ethics commission announcement said the consent agreement with Jack Bechdel was reached in May. Its terms say he is to make a $5,000 payment to the township; he also has agreed to return a generator he had purchased through the Federal Surplus Supply Property Program.
Jack Bechdel had been the supervisors’ vice-chairman. James Bechdel had been the chairman; James earlier this year was directed by the state to pay $103,109.76 in penalties for using his office to make purchases from the federal surplus program. The James Bechdel case was referred to state and federal legal authorities for further investigation.
The Ethics Commission order against Jack Bechdel:
Order No. 1718 (Bechdel)
Bald Eagle Township
Clinton County, PA
1. As a Supervisor for Bald Eagle Township (“Township”), Clinton County, Pennsylvania, Jack B. Bechdel (“Bechdel”) violated Section 1103(a) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act (“Ethics Act”), 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(a), when he used the authority of his public office as a Township Supervisor to make purchases from the Federal Surplus Supply Property Program (“FSP”), which is of restricted access, and subsequently converted purchased items, including a Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA”) travel trailer and electrical generator, to his personal use.
2. Bechdel violated Section 1103(f) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1103(f), when he conveyed a FEMA travel trailer purchased from the FSP to himself, through the Township, for a fee of $500.00 absent an open and public process.
3. Bechdel violated Sections 1104(a)/1105(b)(2), (5) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 1104(a)/1105(b)(2), (5), when he filed untimely and deficient Statements of Financial Interests on which he failed to include the Township as a source of income for the 2013 and 2015 calendar years and failed to identify an occupation or profession for the 2015 calendar year.
4. Per the Consent Agreement of the parties, no action will be undertaken pursuant to Section 1104(d) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1104(d).
5. Per the Consent Agreement of the parties, Bechdel is directed to make payment in the amount of $5,000.00 payable to Bald Eagle Township and forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission by no later than the thirtieth (30th) day after the mailing date of this Order.
6. Bechdel is directed to not accept any reimbursement, compensation or other payment from the Township representing a full or partial reimbursement of the amount paid in settlement of this matter.
7. Bechdel is ordered to return the electrical generator in his possession, purchased from the FSP as identified herein, to the Township; and to direct the Township to submit to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission a receipt and verification of the return of said property, and that same was returned in good working order.
8. To the extent he has not already done so, Bechdel is directed to file complete and accurate amended Statements of Financial Interests for the 2013 and 2015 calendar years with the Township, through the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, by no later than the thirtieth (30th) day after the mailing date of this Order.
9. Bechdel is ordered to fulfill his agreement that he will immediately resign his public office as a Township Supervisor and will neither seek nor hold any position of public office in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at any time, from the date of the parties’ Consent Agreement (May 26, 2017) forward.
10. Compliance with paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of this Order will result in the closing of this case with no further action by this Commission.
a. Noncompliance will result in the institution of an order enforcement action.