A former Lower Bucks emergency services squad chief has been sentenced to county prison for stealing more than $150,000 from his employers over nearly a decade.
Scott Mel Bahner, 50, of Bensalem, was ordered Wednesday to report July 6 to the Bucks County Correctional Facility to begin serving his six-to-23-month prison sentence. He will also serve a 36-month concurrent term of probation.
Bahner pleaded guilty in December to counts of theft and access device fraud, admitting he stole $127,942 from the Bucks County Rescue Squad while employed as its chief from 2009 until 2018.
The stealing started almost immediately, beginning just seven months after Bahner was hired.
“This defendant routinely and repeatedly betrayed the trust placed in him by the Bucks County Rescue Squad and the citizens and taxpayers who fund and rely on the organization,” said Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber. “Fortunately, the victims in this case will be made financially whole. However, his prison sentence should serve as a warning that thefts of this kind from the nonprofits that serve our communities will not be tolerated in Bucks County.”
In sentencing the defendant, President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. said he sought to balance the good Bahner had done during his career as a paramedic and trainer in emergency medicine against the harm he inflicted on his colleagues at the Bucks County Rescue Squad and the communities they served.
“For all those people that you helped, there’s just as many people that you’ve hurt,” Bateman said.
The thefts, averaging more than $14,000 a year, came in the form of checks from the ambulance company to himself and creditors, as well as unauthorized use of company credit cards for personal expenses.
He used his access to the company’s accounting software to conceal his thefts. He used the stolen funds for numerous personal expenses at gun stores, gas stations and restaurants, as well as to pay for vehicle maintenance and a relative’s stay at a drug rehabilitation clinic in Florida.
“I failed,” Bahner said in court. “I failed every member of public safety in Bucks County who I ever had the privilege to work with.” The defendant’s crimes plunged the 88-year-old rescue squad serving Bristol Borough and Bristol Township into economic turmoil.
Members of the squad addressed the court Wednesday, describing the stress of knowing for years that financial difficulties might suddenly shutter the once-solvent ambulance company, and later the sense of betrayal at learning those hardships were the result of the greed of one of their own.
“Scott Bahner’s malicious and selfish acts almost ruined the lives of the employees of Bucks County Rescue Squad and tainted the the image of a longstnding, well respected and trusted EMS organization in the community,” said current BCRS Chief Martin Liczbinski.
An investment fund belonging to Bahner has been seized and is expected to be liquidated to cover restitution for the full amount of his thefts from the Bucks County Rescue Squad.
Separate from his thefts from the rescue squad, Bahner also stole some $29,000 from Bristol Township while working part-time as a Community Service Officer for the Bristol Township Police Department. In that instance, Bahner falsified time records between March 2016 and September 2017 such that he was paid for 1,777 hours when he was neither on site nor performing police department-related duties.
Discovered by the police department in 2017, Bahner paid back the full amount by check in November of that year. This case was investigated by Bucks County Detectives and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber.