POTTSVILLE, Pa. - He was a trusted public servant for nearly three decades, but now a Schuylkill County official finds himself embroiled in scandal.
Steve Lukach served more than seven terms and is the former president of the state's Clerk of Courts Association.
However today it was announced he's stepping down after the Schuylkill County District Attorney Christine Holman said he used his public office as his own piggy bank.
"When they say there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is," Holman said.
Or at least there was for 27-year Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Steven Lukach.
"This is his lunch tab," County controller Christy Joy said while holding up a photocopied check.
This "lunch" was paid for, he says, from a duplicate check with tax payer money.
It's not just lunch.
Over the past several years the DA's office says this public official used the county automation fund to pay for his car payments, items at Staples including a printer, hard-drive, even H&R Block personal income tax software.
The news stunned deputy clerk Paul Steffanic.
"I never imagined he would ever do anything like this. He's a great person to work with, very personable," Steffanic said.
Officials say Lukach repaid most of the car-payments, but the cost of the lunches, dinners and other items reach into the thousands.
Other employees say that may be just the tip of the iceberg.
"We talked among the other girls who worked here we had a little suspicion about some stuff," Angela Malusky said.
Fellow court employee and Lukach's long time girlfriend Diane Baddick is also under the legal spotlight.
The DA is investigating her to being a possible co-conspirator, with Lukach possibly using county funds to pay for her home mortgage, vacations and clothing.
"It's sad I believe the public's trust will be broken," Holman said.
Lukach isn't officially stepping down until Thursday.
He's also being investigated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office, the United States Attorney General's office and the FBI.
He has not been formally charged.
We were unable to contact both him and Baddick.
Allentown, PA 18102