SANDUSKY - Five businessmen testified yesterday that they donated money after the Perkins Township police chief asked them to contribute to a special police dog training program.
But prosecutors told an Erie County Common Pleas Court jury that Chief Tim McClung pocketed some of the donations for the Perkins Police Association's K-9 fund.
Chief McClung, 38, who sat without expression during the second day of his trial, has been charged with embezzling $20,000 from the fund over four years.
Authorities say he transferred money from the fund into his personal bank accounts.
Special Prosecutor John Weglian yesterday questioned a local Fraternal Order of Eagles representative who wrote a $4,300 check to the K-9 fund in May, 1994.
Larry Wren, a secretary for the Eagles, said he believed the money would be used for dog training and related purposes.
But Mr. Weglian provided documents to claim that Chief McClung used $1,000 of the donation to buy a lawnmower for himself.
“Did you give money for a [lawnmower]?” Mr. Weglian asked Mr. Wren.
“I would say we were donating for the dogs,” Mr. Wren replied.
“Not for a lawnmower?” Mr. Weglian asked again.
“No,” Mr. Wren said.
In another instance, Raffelle Ruta, vice president of the Sandusky Vending Partnership, recalled that Chief McClung asked him in May, 1998, to include a second name on his $2,000 check to the K-9 fund.
He said the chief asked him to make the check payable to the NNDDA, which are the initials of a national dog group to which Chief McClung belonged. The chief had opened a local bank account under this group's name, bank records show.
Mr. Ruta said he didn't question the request. “I just assumed it was some type of association with the police fund,” he said.
The tone of his testimony reflected that of others who have been called by the prosecution to testify. Many said they have known and trusted Chief McClung for years.
“I've known Tim for a long time,'' testified businessman David Kluding, who said he sold Chief McClung a cargo trailer in July, 1998. “His word was good for me.''
Many of the chief's associates said that they couldn't recall exact details about the fund.
Bridget Holzhauser, who was a partner with Chief McClung in the Right Track K-9 Center, initially recalled only that “it was probably Tim'' who came into the bank where she worked to cash business checks.
She said Chief McClung carried checks written by the township police association to Right Track, which provided food for the township's dogs.
Ms. Holzhauser recalled how she would endorse those checks and use the money for K-9 center expenses. She turned the remaining money over to Chief McClung for his expenses.
She said she did not know what those expenses were.
Dressed in his blue Perkins Township uniform, Officer Rob Parthemore testified that he wrote several checks to Chief McClung from the K-9 fund but doesn't recall why.
“For every check I write, there has to be some type of receipt and those receipts would be the association's records,” he testified.
The association's records have not been found since the chief's investigation began in early 1999. Prosecutors claim Chief McClung destroyed them.