Michael Hammond

A former Johnstown-area man was jailed on Tuesday in connection with the theft of $57,525.91 from the local ice rink construction business that he once worked for, authorities said.

Michael Sean Hammond, 33, who lived in the 600 block of Penn Avenue before moving recently to Pittsburgh, faces 72 theft-related counts, including 18 counts each of forgery and tampering with records and 15 counts each of receiving stolen property and theft, court records indicate.

Adams Township police allege Hammond stole the funds between Feb. 15 and June 26 from Everything Ice in Salix, where he worked as the controller for approximately six years.

“It’s a sad, disappointing situation,” John Burley, the owner of Everything Ice, told The Tribune-Democrat on Tuesday afternoon. 

“This young man was on top of the world, and he’s throwing his life away.”

According to a criminal complaint, Burley contacted police in July to report irregularities in the Everything Ice bank accounts. Burley told police at that time that he had hired the Johnstown-based accounting firm Wessel & Co. to conduct a forensic audit.

During the audit, the accounting firm alleged that Hammond had a signature stamp of the company’s vice president to sign checks. He also made checks out to cash, cashed them and received the cash from the bank, but could not account for the use of that money, according to the criminal complaint.

Hammond allegedly wrote at least 18 checks payable to himself, ranging from $1,565.35 to $5,642.36. He could provide no satisfactory answers as to how the the cash was used to pay company bills, the complaint said, and he allegedly made false statements to the accounting firm, both in writing and verbally, about what police described as his “illegal accounting actions.”

According to the complaint, Wessel & Co. concluded that the company’s accounting history “made it obvious that unauthorized withdrawal of monies for Michael Hammond(’s) personal use had been occurring to a substantial degree.”

“At no time did any employee of Everything Ice give authorization to (Hammond) to withdraw company funds for personal use and (Hammond) went to great lengths to hide his theft,” police said in the complaint. 

The investigation is ongoing, and Burley said on Tuesday that it could ultimately show a $400,000 loss for his company. Still, he added, the company’s cash flow remains positive. Everything Ice has about 50 employees and recently landed a $2 million contract for a project in Phoenix, Burley said.

Hammond turned himself in to police on Tuesday. He was arraigned by on-call District Judge John Prebish, of Cresson, and sent to Cambria County Prison after failing to post 10% of $35,000 bail, court records indicate. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Oct. 24 before District Judge Rick W. Varner, of Sidman.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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