Poconos Coal

Penn Forest council faces assault, misappropriations allegations

PENN FOREST TWP., Pa. - A raucous Penn Forest Board of Supervisors meeting Monday was punctuated by allegations of physical assault and misappropriation of funds levied against several council members.

During a contentious public comment period that spanned nearly an hour,  numerous residents cited claims made by former township supervisor Paul Montemuro at last week's board meeting that township officials had previously misappropriated $1.6 million in funds.

Montemuro, who lost his bid for re-election in 2012, has targeted incumbent Chairman Warren Reiner in accusations that he has taken to the Carbon County district attorney, the state police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

At the public meeting, Reiner again rebuked the allegations, at one point speaking directly to Montemuro in attendance.

"I wasn't going to run in the next election, but if you're going to run, Paul, I'm in," said Reiner.

"If you're not in jail," Montemuro quipped.

Township solicitor Thomas Nanovic meanwhile continued to defend the councilman, saying that to this point investigations have proven fruitless.

"To my knowledge no one that has been given [this information] has done anything with it," he said.    

The allegations did not end there though.

Cynthia Henning, the garbage administrator for Penn Forest Township, was terminated from her post Monday following a physical dispute that has both sides calling foul play.

According to Henning's representation, on May 9 she was working at town hall when she heard a dispute between two board members and proceeded to enter the room.

She says that one of the two supervisors, Chairman Reiner, proceeded to physically assault her by forcefully grabbing her and shoving her out of the room.

Henning reported the incident to local police and purported to receive a letter from township secretary Marry Ann Lewellyn corroborating her story.

The council, however, saw the incident differently. 

"It was claimed that my client was not in fact touched, but that she did the touching," said Henning's attorney.

Solicitor Thomas Nanovic instructed the supervisors not to comment on the matter.

At Monday's meeting Henning was discharged following an executive session.

Fellow staffer Carolyn Matthews also had her employment terminated.

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