PLYMOUTH - Former mayoral candidate John C. Wunsch has been fired as treasurer of the Terryville Volunteer Fire Department and is under investigation for embezzlement.
“A recent audit of fire department finances revealed discrepancies in the funds that the fire department raised through private donations and fundraisers,” said Fire Chief Mark Sekorski.
“We can’t comment on a dollar amount now, the police have advised me not to say anything,” he added.
He said the department uses these contributions to benefit many department activities, such as its fire prevention programs, uniforms, supporting community outreach programs, including the Human Service Department’s Small Wonders program for families with young children, high school scholarships, and helping numerous local families during the Christmas holiday.
The money was also being raised to buy full dress uniforms for the department, he said. “That’s the biggest clincher, why all my guys are upset and very disappointed, because we saved long and hard to buy these new uniforms, and now we don’t have enough money to buy a T-shirt.”
“We will rectify this situation and do everything in our power to regain the faith and trust of our community,” said Sekorski. “We also want to make it clear that no taxpayer money is involved in these allegations. All the money allegedly taken was raised by volunteer members of the department as well as by friends and supporters.”
“This matter has been reported to the Plymouth Police Department and we will be fully cooperating with their investigation,” he continued.
Sekorski said no charges have been filed yet but Wunsch has been suspended from the department as of Jan. 17 while the investigation proceeds.
Wunsch was a firefighter for about 16 years and treasurer for about three and a half or four years, and was also the department secretary, Sekorski said. “We had a new secretary take over and when we went through the books we found the discrepancies. It’s not a big job. We may write out eight or 10 checks a month. We don’t spend a lot of money. We don’t have a lot of money.”
“It’s another black eye on a nice little town,” Sekorski commented. “It’s sad for the firehouse because they’re all volunteers and the guys put their lives on the line and their heart and soul into protecting the town. But we’ll pick up the pieces and keep going like we always do.”
Wunsch, 53, did not respond to a call to his home.
He served one term on the Town Council from 2009 to 2011 and ran for mayor on the Republican ticket in 2011, losing to then-Mayor Vincent Festa.
During his campaign, he listed his goals as: “To bring common sense approach to town government by listening and following up on issues the residents and business bring forward in a timely fashion. To present ideas and ways to meet the goals for improving the quality of life in town while promoting a responsible financial base.”
A lifelong town resident, Wunsch served as vice chairman of the high school building committee. During his campaign he said he was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, the Jacklin Rod and Gun Club, and the Sons of the American Legion.
In 2014 his father, John L. Wunsch, 80, was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a minor, illegal sexual contact with a minor and second-degree sexual assault in connection with incidents that dated back to 2005.
The senior Wunsch worked as an aide at the Plymouth Learning Center and Plymouth Center Elementary School. According to the warrant in his arrest, an 8-year-old from Plymouth Center told her mother that she and Wunsch had kissed on the lips on multiple occasions in the school. She also said, the document continued, that he told her not to tell anyone.
He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and is due to be released in March.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.