- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - The former manager of a northeastern Pennsylvania township has avoided jail after pleading guilty to stealing more than $150,000 over an eight-year span.

Seventy-two-year-old Richard Zika of Hanover pleaded guilty in April to third-degree felony theft in an agreement with Luzerne County prosecutors. Zika has since repaid more than $115,000 to the township, as prosecutors dropped other charges including fraud, record-tampering and receiving stolen property.

He was sentenced Monday by a Luzerne County judge to two years’ house arrest and five years’ probation.

Authorities said Zika endorsed checks to himself from Newport Township’s refuse and recycling accounts from 2008 to 2016. Zika apologized for violating the trust of the township supervisors.

Zika’s attorney says his client stole the money, in part, to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses for diabetes and other health issues.

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