Melissa Ziolkowski waives charges in charity theft – Fallen Officers Remembered

A Plains Township woman charged with stealing $1,550 raised at a charity event for police officers waived her right to a preliminary hearing Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Michael Dotzel in Wilkes-Barre Township.

Melissa Ziolkowski, 29, of Maffett Street, was in charge of the event’s proceeds while working as a manager at Skateaway in Wilkes-Barre Township. She allegedly never turned the money over to the charitable group, Fallen Officers Remembered. She will face charges of theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and theft by deception in Luzerne County Court.

According to the criminal complaint, the charitable event was held at Skateaway on Nov. 29, 2009, for Fallen Officers Remembered, an organization that raises funds to buy bullet-resistant vests for emergency responders.

Brad Holloway, owner of the roller skating rink, told police that he was contacted in May by the charity’s co-founder Jaclyn Pocceschi-Mosley, stating she had been trying since November to obtain the donation. Mosley said was given several e-mailed excuses that the money was locked in a safe, the money had been sent out by mail and that Ziolkowski was unavailable to meet.

Donnie Evans, assistant manager at Skateaway, told police that the money was in a clear plastic bag in a safe that was accessible to Ziolkowski.

Ziolkowski told police the safe was accessible to most employees and she had not checked to see if the money was still in the bag until January. She said she did not notify Holloway of the theft.

In March, she said she personally replaced $1,274 and gave it to Evans to give to Mosley but he didn’t. She said Evans responded to Mosley’s e-mails and she had no contact with her.

Robert Anderson told police that Ziolkowski separated from her husband and she secured her own apartment with a new hardwood floor, kitchen table, entertainment stand, television and computer shortly after the benefit and had taken a number of friends to a club and paid the tab.

Evans told police that Ziolkowski told him to only count a certain amount of admissions and then stop taking count so the money could be replaced. He said she also told him she would “short” the concessions to help make up the money for the benefit.

Attorney Andrew Katsock is representing Ziolkowski. First Deputy District Attorney David Pedri is prosecuting.

By Denise Allabaugh (Staff Writer)

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