BY STACI WILSON
The county’s former Emergency Management Coordinator faces identity theft allegations after law enforcement officials said he used another former employee’s personal information to open credit card accounts.
Robert Thatcher Jr., 32, Hallstead, was charged with five counts of identity theft, one count of access device fraud and two counts of receiving stolen property on Wednesday, July 11 by Susquehanna County Chief Detective John Oliver stemming from events occurring in early June.
Thatcher had been terminated from his position on June 22, for reasons unrelated to his alleged criminal conduct, according to a statement issued by the county commissioners on Thursday.
According to the affidavit filed Wednesday in Montrose District Court, the victim reported to Montrose Borough Police on June 21 that he been notified that applications for Capital One Bank and Citibank credit cards had been made in his name that he did not apply for.
Montrose Police Chief Dale Smith investigated and it was determined the Capital One card had been used to purchase fuel at a Sunoco station in Great Bend and for an online purchase.
The address on the card used for the purchase was 81 Public Ave., Montrose – the address of the county office building where the victim had previously worked.
Chief Smith requested assistance from the county detectives for the investigation.
It was determined the victim’s personal information – including his date of birth and social security number – would have been available to Thatcher.
According to the affidavit, Thatcher purchased $142.41 in truck parts online on June 11 in the victim’s name. The package was delivered to the county office building by Fed Ex on June 12 and signed for by “R. Thatcher.”
Thatcher was interviewed at the Pennsylvania State Police, Gibson barracks, on July 10 by Oliver and Tpr. Girard Dempsey.
At first, Thatcher denied any knowledge about the credit cards or truck parts – then went on to tell investigators that he did sign for the package but didn’t know what happened to it.
According to the affidavit, Thatcher was shown the fictitious email address used to order the parts, and told he could be identified through the email.
It was then, according to the report, that Thatcher began sweating profusely, hyperventilating and dry-heaving before admitting that he had opened an account and purchased the truck parts. But, he told investigators, he became nervous after he received the package and threw it in the dumpster the following day.
Thatcher denied using the victim’s information to open accounts with Kay Jewelers and Citibank, and said he didn’t remember what he had applied for but mention Walmart and Lowe’s. He said he had only received the Capital One credit card in the mail but had since shredded it.
According to the affidavit, Thatcher used a Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency laptop to apply for the credit cards and to make the online purchase.
In response to this incident, the county has begun an investigation to determine if Thatcher accessed any additional information related to the victim or others while employed by the county.
The statement from the county reads, in part: “Based upon the information currently available, it appears that this was an isolated incident and that no information, other than that associated with the current victim, was accessed, utilized or obtained by Thatcher. Nonetheless, the County will continue to work with its in-house IT employees, as well as external vendors to confirm this.”
The county commissioners thanked the Montrose Borough Police, District Attorney’s office, and Pennsylvania State Police for their work on the matter and offered: “The County would also like to stress that it values our employees and that their security, both personal and virtual, is of tantamount importance to the County.”
Thatcher arraigned on Wednesday, and released on unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Monday, July 16 in front of Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Hollister in Montrose District Court.