2018-12-01 / News

‘No contest’ plea in fraud case

A former Emporium resident accused of defrauding his mother’s estate of more than $300,000 avoided trial with a “no contest” plea last week to a felony count of theft by unlawful taking.

Thomas J. Holjencin Jr., 48, was charged by the Pa. Attorney General’s Office as the result of financial transactions taking place between 2009 and 2014.

Earlier this year, Emporium Borough Police Chief Dave Merritt testified that Holjencin had admitted that he “messed up” by using funds from several checking and investment accounts to pay for a trip to Disney World, bar expenses, meals, hotels, airfare, sporting goods, and tuition to Clarion University, among other items.

When later questioned by agents from the Pa. Attorney General’s office, Holjencin allegedly explained that some of the withdrawals were used to pay his salary as an employee of Emporium Powdered Metal Inc., a company owned by his brother Joseph.

The defendant stated that his brother’s company was not doing well financially at the time of his withdrawals and asserted that he had planned to pay back the money.

Thomas and Joseph Holjencin were given power-of-attorney over their mother’s estate in 2008 after she moved into Felt Manor in Emporium. She died in 2013.

Defense attorney David J. Hopkins of DuBois moved unsuccessfully to have the charges dismissed based on his assertion that the statute of limitations had expired in 2017.

The prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Forray, countered that Holjencin’s criminal activity had continued into 2014 and was a “continuous course of conduct.”

Authorities were alerted to the matter in late 2015 after another of the defendant’s brothers, Sam Holjencin, found that a large sum of money was missing from the estate.

As part of the plea arrangement, the defendant will forgo interest from his remaining portion of the estate, which has a balance of about $125,000; will serve a 23-month term of probation and pay a $500 fine plus prosecution costs.

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