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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nazareth Mayor Charged With Skimming From Vigilance Hose

Just when you think things could never possibly be more cRaZy in Nazareth than they already are, this tiny borough reaches a brand level of insanity. Today, Nazareth Borough Mayor Carle Strye, age 53, was charged with skimming about $8,000 in gambling proceeds (which itself is illegal), from the Vigilance Hose Company. He was their President before being elected Mayor. This is a third degree felony with a maximum sentence of seven years in the slammer and a $15,000 fine. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 3, 9 am, and he has been released on $10,000 unsecured bail. As I write this, he is hiding inside borough hall, hoping to avoid the photographers standing outside.

In the borough form of government, the Mayor serves as the head of the police department. So here in Nazareth, that department is now being run by a man accused of stealing $8,000 from a nonprofit that could use the money. A man who admitted in Grand jury testimony that he stole money from a nonprofit created to serve the community.

Only in Nazareth.

Nazareth also has a Police Chief, a retired cop from the Big Apple, and a Commissioner.  The Commissioner was Strye's idea  He brought in Randy Miller, Northampton County's former Sheriff, to ride herd on the full-timers and destroy the union.

These guys will only work day shift, supervising  two full-time officers and a potpourri of part-timers who get no benefits, are unable to join the police union and hence have no real loyalty.

The ultimate goal of this accused thief and his accomplices on Council is not just to destroy the police union, but to render the police department itself entirely useless.

Reporters await hiding mayor
Commissioner Randy Miller is doing a fine job of making things worse. He brought in one of his buddies, a retired Bethlehem cop, who decided not long ago to ticket a number of cars parked on the wrong side of the street during Sunday Mass. Just weeks ago, he endangered lives in Nazareth with a 70 mph chase [revealed by his own frickin' dash cam] of a suspended driver. Miller denied there was a pursuit even though his pal could be heard on the radio, telling dispatchers that he was "in pursuit." This is also the guy who arrived late for a "shots fired" call that resulted when one Nazareth resident recently invoked the castle doctrine against, of all things, hermit crabs.

Miller, Strye and Borough Council did manage to rid themselves of the best police officer I've ever seen, Freddy Lahovski. They had to pay him the largest settlement ever provided to a Lehigh Valley police officer for violating his civil rights in a country whereit's usually the other way around. This is on top of nearly two years of salary that had to be paid because they illegally fired him. Two other police officers have also filed suit.

You see, Borough Council and Mayor Carl Strye like to meddle in police business.

They don't want cops sticking their noses in places where they don't belong, like the social clubs.

Mayor's parking spot is empty
Look at Council member Larry Stoudt, who tended bar at the local American Legion. He pressured Nazareth police to run the license plate of a suspected informant. He was charged with interfering with a state police investigation, and was later placed on ARD, a special program for first offenders.

Amazingly, Stoudt was easily re-elected.

Though they may have thought they got rid of their problem, they were wrong.

Now Strye has been charged with outright theft, and has no intention of stepping down as Mayor. An accused thief is now calling the shots at the police department.

How could this happen? A little over a year ago, (first reported on this blog), liquor control enforcement officers with the Pennsylvania State Police descended upon three Nazareth area social clubs simultaneously in a raid on illegal gambling. They seized cash and poker machines at the Vigilance Hose and two other social clubs. These raids are almost an annual rite. Clubs get busted, and are back in business the next week.

Although often regarded as a victimless offense, gambling addicts will spend their entire paychecks on a poker machine. Those machines are usually provided by someone with ties to organized crime. Also, unlike a strictly regulated casino, some social clubs will rig their machines to suck money away from some patrons while steering cash to others. Perhaps the biggest problem is skimming. Machine operators often get quite wealthy by pocketing a large percentage of the money used for gambling. Instead of a worthy nonprofit, some steward pockets the money to buy a snowmobile or a second home

Until he was elected Mayor in 2013, Carl Strye was President of Nazareth Vigilance Hose Co, one of the social clubs regularly hit in seven previous raids. At the time of the most recent surprise visit, agents followed one steward to his home, where they seized more money.

How can the police be expected to trust a government official who was the responsible officer for an outfit that was cited seven times before last year's raid? Doesn't this place the fox in the hen house?

Borough police have little to do with gambling. They rely on PSP. But they do have jurisdiction over Crimes Code violations. That would include skimming, which is theft.

After that raid, the social clubs got together and were able to out the undercover officer responsible. They made sure the identity of this person was disclosed at a Super Bowl Party held at Holy Family. But the fun was just beginning.

One Nazareth cop, despite being dumped on from every direction, was sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. That cop is Freddy Lahovski

He began hearing complaints from officers at the Vig that Strye had been skimming from the club. Not just $8,000. Lahovski went to Commissioner Randy Miller. "He ignored me,": Lahovski states. "You're only going to be around as long as you're useful to me," is what Lahovski reports Miller told him.

Lahovski also went to Carl Fischl, the Borough Council member in charge of the police committee, and was ignored there, too.

Realizing he would get no help from a department being run by the person under suspicion, Lahovski took his concerns to the District Attorney. The only person who knew about this was his immediate supervisor, Chief Thomas Trachta, who had gone through the same thing himself when Council member Stoudt wanted him to run the plate of a suspected state police agent. . .

I have been highly critical of Trachta in the past for his arrogance, but he at least is an honest cop and attempted in no way to interfere. Miller, on the other hand, was unhappy when Lahovski told him he had gone to the DA, after the fact  Lahovski  asked the DA to handle the matter because he knew that the DA had the resources, especially an Investigating Grand Jury. Detective John Casciano was assigned, and began the painstaking task of putting together the evidence.

Freddy knew this would be a death sentence to his job as a Nazareth cop. "I'm out of a job, but it was the right thing to do," said Lahovski. "I would do it again."

Eventually, I approached Mayor Carl Strye, who vigorously denied any wrongdoing. He did say he was looking forward to an appearance before the Grand Jury. In my last contact with him, he said he had "no comment."

What is clear is that the Mayor and Borough Council used their positions to retaliate against the very people tasked with the responsibility of protecting the public.

Strye is represented by Bob Eyer. Though Eyer is the Chief Public Defender, he is reportedly representing Strye as private counsel.

As I made my way back home to write this story, I saw a Nazareth police officer. "I'm tired of all this," he told me. "I just want to do my job."

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so embarrassed to live here. I loathe having to tell people where I live. Always a laugh and a reference to the latest article in the paper.

Anonymous said...

You have to love politicians. This embarrassment should resign immediately, but he has no intentions to. Disgusting. Hard to pry your teeth off the public teet, eh?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I love Nazareth, bit its local government is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure none of them can see it - the slime has built up on them over the years and created an impenetrable crust. Good for Fred L for blowing Strye's ass in. Imagine being an honest person, and trying to hold a job in that place.

Anonymous said...

Miller was a wet noodle nice guy type as Commissioner in Bethlehem.
He has fully revealed himself for the leach in the guise of a public official he has long been.
The man is a consummate phoney.

FRED said...

Corruption is rampant it seems in all areas of public service. The people who find wrong doing are the one's that end up being punished and threatened?!? I have know Freddy Lahovski for many years...besides being a cop's cop he is an outstanding human being and someone I call a brother. I am glad the DA has taken things seriously with this and those accused can be held accountable. Bernie, you have been on this from the beginning and are dead on, thank you for an excellent story and keeping things transparent for everyone.

Fred Schoenenbegrer

Anonymous said...

Geez, it was back in March that I got an email from Strye telling me he was in the Phillipenes. Someone stole his luggage, he had no money to get home. He was asking that I forward some money. Obviously it was a scam but it makes you wonder if he was associated with it.

Anonymous said...

I had thought you reported in another article, about a Police Officer being retaliated after reporting to the state that Mayor Strye had stolen gambling money?

I don't think it was Lahovski in that article, was it?

Anonymous said...

John Brown's made some questionable personnel decisions. But he apparently had sleazy Miller pegged. Another sad day for Nazzy, where the underbelly is as cruddy as the town is pretty.

Anonymous said...

These family run little empire fire companies are all dubious. It's time to move into the 21st century and regionalize this important and vital service.

Anonymous said...

nazareth's real name is north freemansburg

Anonymous said...

See you at the next town meeting?

Anonymous said...

Naz PD is on fleek. They recently placed No Parking signs on Phoenix Street across from the Holy Family Club. It's about time. Vehicles had been parking there since the horse and buggy days of 105 years ago. The mayor's a crook (alleged) and the commissioner is a sleazeball. But they're all over the parking situation. Now, if they could only stay out of criminal court.

Anonymous said...

north freemansburg, lol

naz def shares alot with freemansburg. didn't the freemansburg fire co president garcia and his treasurer wife steal 15 grand from them over the last year? guess he needed moolah after losing constable job. course, freemansburg pd can't investigate cause they're getting sued by garcia for running over his foot, lol

speaking of freemansburg police, what happened to the chief? heard pantuso quit the other week

Anonymous said...

The f'burg chief left because unlike Nazzy's chiefs he wouldn't take idiotic orders from non police persons

Anonymous said...

Bernie? Why hasn't Morganelli directed that the Mayor as a condition of his bail not enter or be involved in any police department matters until he has plead guilty and been sentenced? No doubt he is headed for an ARD application.

A for Miller..... Randy you can put a dress on a pig but its still gonna oink....

He sticks out like a turd I the punch bowl at a black tie affair. Those at the Courthouse had him figured out long ago that why he is at Nazareth PD and wont go any further in his career. His own "brethren" know his game....

Anonymous said...

Nazareth is a really nice place to live and there a lot of great people in town. The problem is that Town Council has been the same people for the last twenty or thirty years. They are out of touch. You never see them around town and they get annoyed if you bring up a concern or a solution. There are a couple of new people in town who are going to run for Town Council. I only hope that the rest of the Town supports these new people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:17, Your criticism is very valid. The entiore Borough Council is at fault here, and needs to go. I tied to persuade some folks to run last election cycle, and hope you succeed where I failed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would insist on Srye's resignation ads a condition of ARD, and the sooner the better.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that this kind of thing happens more than is reported. Was not to long ago that Plainfield township had similar issues. Fire chief in questionable financial actions. The $100,000 stolen from the community library. When it was question by supervisors they were horrible people for thinking such a thing of the great people running the library. The supervisors who questioned the finances were not reelected but the supervisors that turned and looked the other way are still on the board. Still makes me sick to drive past the house and see the people who stole still in this community. Amazing the same supervisors allowed another supervisor and road foreman to resign when he was caught stealing. All brushed under the rug. Nice when you have family on the board. Then they fired the chief with out cause. Only for him to win a settlement at the tax payers expense. When will it happen that supervisors should be responsible for costing us money for there person vendettas.

Bernie O'Hare said...



It was. I did not ID him in my first story.

Anonymous said...

That's the problem when you have everyone related. when your local community looks like "Ancestry dot COM" you have interbreeding and politics. Its wide spread from the Slate Belt to P-Burg to Nazareth.

Anonymous said...

My opinion is Mayor your a disgusting human being for admittedly being a thief and embarrassing this community and you need to resign. You scumbag- A self admitted thief that says he isn't gonna resign yet? What a piece of garbage.

Thank you-

A Nazareth Taxpayer and Resident

Bernie O'Hare said...

From the various comments I've read about about different communities, it is becoming clear that there are several problem communities.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fred Schoenenberger, Thanks and I am on that story your associate told me about.

Peter J.Cochran said...

IS it not true Fred is a VETERAN .WELL Bernie go back to the archives I stated on here that Sheriff Miller never would see me about a fugitive and I can understand that most Constables may not have it right sometimes ---BUT It was my request and and it was because I held a warrant. He didn't have 'the time time to see Peter J.Cochran ' . Well it was my time too. In addition,SO- they get what they deserve. I would have bet my pay check that nobody over there knew 'how to serve ' or running down a defendant better that a couple of us Constables.NO DEFEDANT NO PAY.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, you and Freddy are Marines. I try not to hold that against you. Strye messed with the wrong Marine.

Peter J.Cochran said...

SCHOENENBERGER was after me ---I would evaporate. He is the best ,and i WILL Testify under oath, Better then I ever was.

Peter J.Cochran said...

MARINES are drilled and by in large have the utmost integrity except me.We have a problem with people who slither under the floor boards.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Hell .the new Sheriff received me at my request over an issue and I was retired .Difference in thought process. He talked with me in the office and treated me with respect as a citizen.

Anonymous said...

If it is true Cummissioner Miller knew of the crime and failed to act, why hasn't Morganelli charged him. This is a second degree misdemeanor for hindering - failing to report a crime. Believed this happened to two deputy sheriffs.

Anonymous said...

The lowest of lowlife's in stealing from everyone who comes in contact with him. He should do the residents of Nazareth a favor and just drop dead!

Anonymous said...

Mayors like this are why PA needs to change the Borough Code giving Mayors complete control of the police. Only after the proper training and education should the mayor be in charge of the police department. There are many issues that would need to be resolved, but is time that the situation is looked into by the state.

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

Its almost laughable , how corrupt politics has become, these are just the ones we know about. again, where there's money the vultures are circling.

Anonymous said...

Cummissioner Miller told the Express he knew nothing, but in your blog Fred said he told Miller. Miller appears to be LYING. ARREST Miller for obstruction of Justice - failing to perform lawful duties.

Anonymous said...

FJ was the scariest cop I ever seen in action. No one liked to work with him Glad he's gone.

Anonymous said...

Freemansburg police should hire that lahavsky guy to be chief, sounds like he'd get to the bottom of the fire chief scandle, but better yet nazareth should hire lahavsky for chief

Anonymous said...

FM = FIRE MILLER
FM = FIRE MILLER
FM = FIRE MILLER
FM = FIRE MILLER
FM = FIRE MILLER
FM = FIRE MILLER
FM = FIRE MILLER

Anonymous said...

Bring back lahovski, bring back lahovski, bring back lahovski

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Cummissioner Miller told the Express he knew nothing, but in your blog Fred said he told Miller. Miller appears to be LYING. ARREST Miller for obstruction of Justice - failing to perform lawful duties"

Miller is completely full of it, but he can't be arrested for lying.

Anonymous said...

FJ is one of the greatest guys I know, I'm proud that hes a brother and he not scared to stand up and do whats right, as far as Strye and his tool bag commissioner, let then sink together.

Anonymous said...

I have been in the vig club. They are doing tax fraud, they have one or two people on the books as employees that pay taxes and a lot of people that get paid under the table. I have seen them hand out envelopes of cash as payment to people who do bartending. As for the poker machines, they have a switch under the bar to turn off the machines in case plcb shows up and the bartender always had a envelope full of cash to pay out to the people playing poker

Anonymous said...

Very sad that our small town has been going downhill fast.Our boro counsel does nothing for the little taxpayers,rubs hands with certain landlords,wastes our tax dollars on project,s not needed and stands by our elected officals when they admit guilt. The worst part about it is the taxpayers never do anything about it.PEOPLE WAKE UP! Go to their meetings an let them know it time to put this town back together the right an honest way!

Anonymous said...

Freemansburg chief quit because borough manager was using a police vehicle as a personal vehicle and taking it to her home in North Whitehall daily. Vehicle has leather seats and a Sun roof. Mayor Yob and council is covering for manager. DA maybe investigating this public deceit as well.

Anonymous said...

The following URL will take you to a web company that created an application that will correct your grammar as you go. As much as I dislike you, I still read your stuff, and out of the goodness of my heart I share this app with you. It works. I use it. Here is the URL: https://app.grammarly.com/

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you he comes out as gay!

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:00, If you have specific suggestions about grammar, make them. I am not proud and am always willing to be corrected, even from people who dislike me. But you are really just trying to deflect attention away from the topic, mostly because you are an asshole.

Anonymous said...

To: 11:47 (aka Bernie)
The Grammarly app catches typos while you type. Since you rush to get your blog out, this could be helpful to you. Try it. And I still think you are an asshole.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So send me the money. It costs $29 per money. Send me $348 and i'll sign up for a year. You can send it to me anonymously, like you comment. 68 S Main St, Nazareth, PA 18064. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with non-profits using video poker to raise money for their organizations. However, when officers of the organization skim money for personel use they should held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
I see your irratants are up late and most deffinatly don't sleep well as truth be told, there deviant I'll behaviors are catching up with them?!
You should not even compair yourself to Allentown's circus stick the hemrode topped with a pussie boil about to pop, pandering mayor?
I see today that you are now even doing obits too!
One of the most Important services as well as the reel on the reel of the triboro?
redd registered Republican
patent pending

Anonymous said...

There are free versions of Grammarly. They work well. No need to go Pro. See this URL.
https://app.grammarly.com/apps

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are incorrect. To work for what I do, I need the pro version. So send me the $348 or shut up and go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

By by Mayor Dinkle Pussy,you low lying thief. Don't go away yet,you can take chief cupcake. Their running a special buy 1 soap on the rope get one free . Take advantage buy them by the case. Stop right there make a list #1 soap on the rope #2 kYJell #3 tampons to stop the bleeding of the ass (OUCH)#4 tell them you have Aids.#5 Their going to tell you it's OK,now they won't fell bad when they give it to you,they will say you have it already ha ha.#6 your wives will continue with their sex lives. After all what goes around comes around. Happy Trails to you Ian sure will meet again in 17 or so years. And last butt not least #6 mirrors they like them. This way they can watch the expression on your face.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, he,s a thief,not a murder or child molester.He,s got a lot of good old counsel boy,s behind him.LOL

Anonymous said...

How can you report dirty money stolen is the only question I got you didn't pay taxes on it so why would you report it ....

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's an incredibly stupid question. That fact that money is obtained illegally does not remove the obligation to report it. Nor is it a defense to claim that one cannot steal proceeds from an activity that is itself illegal. Theft is theft.