CLEARFIELD – A former treasurer of the Coalport Masonic Lodge failed to appear for his preliminary hearing in a forgery/theft case against him, and all charges were held for court Wednesday. A bench warrant request was also sent to the Court of Common Pleas.
Joseph Gary Blake, 61, of Coalport has been charged with 18 counts of forgery and 20 counts each of theft by failure to make the required disposition of funds and theft by unlawful taking.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, between Dec. 29, 2009 and July 15, 2013, Blake was treasurer of the Coalport Masonic Lodge. During the timeframe, he allegedly wrote checks to himself from the lodge’s bank account, and senior lodge members brought the case to the state police at Clearfield.
Upon further investigation, state police found 20 checks, which required three signatures. Of those, 18 checks allegedly contained Blake’s signature and two forged signatures. Two checks were allegedly signed by other lodge members prior to Blake making them out to himself. State police found that Blake had allegedly stolen a total of $6,450 from the Coalport Masonic Lodge.
State police said it’s known that Blake was in a poor financial situation during the timeframe. It was also noted in the affidavit that a family member was terminally ill, and Blake had lost his home in Coalport due to unpaid taxes.