January 25, 2012 —
The much-awaited grand jury report has finally arrived after nearly two years of bitter rumor and speculation in Shohola Township with two sides lining up in favor or against the Walls.
Shohola supervisor Eleanor “Nelia” Wall and her husband Donald Wall, a former zoning officer and fire chief of the township, are facing a variety of corruption charges at the recommendation of the Pike County Grand Jury that has been investigating the Shohola couple for three years.
They surrendered themselves to the court to avoid public arrest.
The Walls were accused on Wednesday, January 18 of using their official positions to further their own private financial gain between 2006 and 2009.
“This vindicates [chairman of the Township Board] George Fluhr Jr. and [township supervisor] Greg Hoeper,” said resident and attorney Eric Hamill, who first brought the questionable activities by the Walls to the township board nearly two years ago.
Fluhr and Hoeper subsequently fired the Walls from their township positions: Donald from his office as zoning officer and Nelia from her two positions as secretary and treasurer of the township, which caused an outpouring of public anger from the Walls’ supporters that has been aimed at Fluhr and Hoeper.
“We realized that something unlawful was going on in the township,” Fluhr said. “It appeared to us that the laws of the Commonwealth were being violated and that we had no choice but to act the way we did. Because the investigation was on-going, we could not jeopardize it and that’s why we remained silent.”
The Walls own a company called TLC Landscape, which handled excavation, snowplowing and other tasks. Donald, acting as
both a contractor and zoning officer, approved his own work.
It is alleged that Nelia, as township secretary and treasurer, encouraged permit applicants to use her husband’s business.
She is also accused of approving her husband’s time sheets, which overstated the hours spent on zoning officer jobs.
Donald is also charged with several counts of conflict of interest, and promoting his business while exercising his duties of zoning officer.
This information is contained in a 31-page criminal grand jury report.
The allegations are based on the testimony of 13 Shohola Township residents who sought various permits and ended up using TLC for the proposed construction or plowing work.
Donald is charged with eight counts of conflict of interest, one count of theft by deception, one count of theft of unlawful taking, one count of criminal conspiracy to commit theft, 14 counts of tampering with public records or information and one count of criminal attempt by extortion.
Nelia is charged with eight counts of conflict of interest, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, restricted activity and criminal conspiracy to commit theft and one count of deception.
Unsecured bail was set at $25,000 for each of them. They were subsequently released and ordered to appear at a preliminary hearing on February 21. They must surrender any firearms in their home to the Pike County Sheriff and notify the court if they intend to transfer any assets over $10,000.
No one who testified at the grand jury, with the exception of Hamill, appeared at the monthly meetings of the township board to complain.
The Walls did not respond to requests for comment.