The husband of the former tax collector for the Ambridge Area School District and Baden Borough has been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $1 million in property taxes.

Keith Kristek, 57, of Baden was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab. Judge Schwab also ordered Kristek to pay $1 million in restitution to the Ambridge School District and $46,000 to Baden Borough. Kristek pleaded guilty back in June to mail fraud and filing a false tax return.

Authorities say he gambled away the money, which he stole from taxpayers over a period of 8 years.

Keith Kristek gained access to the tax money after being appointed to the position of Deputy Tax Collector by his wife Cynthia Kristek, who was elected to the position but then unable to obtain a bond due to a prior bankruptcy. Federal prosecutors say Keith had forged his wife’s signatures on checks and deposited them into his own bank account, also pocketing tax payments made in cash.

Kristek’s federal prison sentence will be followed by a period of 3 years of probation, during which time he must complete a rehabilitation program for gambling addiction. The man was ordered to make payments of at least 10% of his future gross income toward reimbursing taxpayers.

Keith Kristek has also served as the elected Constable for Baden Borough and as a municipal police officer.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Hey , It’s the Ambridge Area and of course he was a former local cop. He certainly felt entitled to the money. Probably has a lot of friends and admirers walking around Baden and Ambridge saying what a great guy he was and that he was just trying to get ahead in the world….

     
  2. “Keith Kristek gained access to the tax money after being appointed to the position of Deputy Tax Collector by his wife Cynthia Kristek, who was elected to the position but then unable to obtain a bond due to a prior bankruptcy.”

    So, the tax collector that was ineligible to do the job gets to appoint her replacement, HER HUSBAND, to the position????? This is stupid even by the stellar standards that Ambridge has set over the years.

     
  3. The loss of money is unacceptable to the taxpayers of this district. How in the world was he allowed to collect on behalf of his wife who wasn’t allowed due to a bond issue. Whoever allowed him to do so is just as guilty. The lack of fiscal accountability in this district is disgusting. Year after year there is some sort of financial or other type of scandal. It’s appalling.

     
    • Mr Jimer,
      I could not agree with you more. Wasteful spending, new turf at the JH track, JH renovations that will only require more money in the long run, paying a nutsy superintendent to sit at home with a $600/day replacement, missing 1 milion from the district over 8 years, backwards progress but increased spending. No balls school board. Put employees in there place who do not do their job and quit turning a blind eye for political reasons or because you have an agenda. Otherwise this district will go backrupt. We seem to have forgotten education and kids should come first. Do not forget teachers do not have a contract, test scores plummeted, and the district is getting more in debt with more bad decisions. Spineless. Make better decisions and wake up

       
  4. I don’t mean to open a hornet’s nest and mean no offense, but why is AASD on the hook for this loss. If he was collecting for Baden but not forwarding funds to AASD, and Baden thus shorted the district tax payments, why isn’t Baden responsible for this? Shouldn’t Baden, or its insurer, still owe AASD $1 million?

     
      • Stop writing checks to the individual or at least make sure you make your check payable to the individual AND “treasurer.”
        For example, C Javens, Treasurer, rather than Connie Javens.
        or
        Beaver County Treasurer

        They will cash it

         
    • Rob,
      It’s my understanding Kristeks were originally bonded for a large amount then lowered it to $30 grand and the district never questioned it? Would that not be a red flag??? Also where and the hell was the business manager when all this was occurring and how could this have gone on for 8 years without the school distict knowing? 8 years and not one person caught it in the district? That is negligence on that individuals part also. They should lose their job because they should have caught that error well before it totaled 1million over an 8 year period and also missed the fact that the bonded amount drastically changed. Now taxpayers have to pay the price for sveveral stupid individuals. Who in the hell is the business manager for the district anyway? And I heard the district auditors caught this error finally. Not sure why it took 8 years. Wake up people more reasons to clean house.

       
  5. Wow 37 months! That is worth a million. He will be 60 when he gets out and only has to pay 10% of his gross income. He won’t be able to get a good job due to his record and his age so he will likely repay a very small amount, if any.

    And they say crime doesn’t pay!

     
  6. She couldn’t get a bond so she appointed him as a deputy. Is that to infer that he was able to get a bond? If the bond was issued why isn’t the bond company ponying up the money to Ambridge and the school district? Second, while he was only a deputy his wife was the elected official and therefore has the ultimate responsibility for what happens in the tax collector’s office. Why wasn’t she also charged? Finally, can we safely assume that she is no longer the official tax collector?

     
  7. My question is why was he able to do his wife’s job? She was the one elected.if she couldn’t be bonded there should have been a special election or they should have made sure she was able to meet all qualifications before she could run

     
  8. How about Baden Council! What do they have to say? If there was anyone on council watching the books maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation. Baden Council is useless. Buy more fire trucks!

     
    • Sounds like the Beaver County Controller’s Office doesn’t it? Decides to audit after years of corruption.

       
  9. Be honest with everyone, I am so stinking fed up with all the fraud, miss use of funds, corruption in all levels of government, special interest pay offs, bribes, and why we keep putting these people in office. Why can normal everyday people with a background in areas be able to run this government, instead of always being political or political correct. We need to follow the laws, however we are never above the laws. This people need to be put on display on front of the courthouse. Just saying

     
  10. This jerk stole more than one million dollars from the taxpayers. It took 8 years to nab him. He gets sentenced
    to 37 months in federal prison. Meaning, he DEFINITELY ran afoul of the federal government.

    Taxpayer’s money MAY be missing from the Courthouse as well. No one has been nabbed. No one has been sentenced. Meaning, these questions remain unanswered. Did someone steal the money? Or didn’t they? Is it a federal question or a local one?

    The silence screams from D. A. David Lozier’s office, not a peep. In 3 years, VOTE GERALD BENYO FOR BEAVER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

     
  11. “In Politics we get what we deserve” -George Carlin.

    We all have to really focus on putting people in office that are not in it for their own financial reward. We all deserve better in Beaver County, so it is time we start voting the career politicians and all their cronies out. On both sides of the isle.

     
  12. Let’s talk in round numbers for a minute –

    3 years and 10% of income is the penalty for stealing a million dollars. Hmmmm.

    Let’s say that he makes $100,000 a year when he gets out of prison (which will likely be much sooner once our politicians think no one is watching). 10% of $100,000 is $10,000. Mr. Kristek is 57 years old now. He owes $1,000,000. So, if he makes his $100,000 a year and pays his 10% restitution, the Ambridge taxpayers will be whole (excluding interest!) when Mr. Kristek is 157 years old. I guess the court has deemed Mr. Kristek a medical wonder.

    I’ve always believed that the penalty for breaking the law was to serve as a deterrent. I don’t see how this sentence is a deterrent for anyone thinking they could do the same. In fact, this looks like a sweet deal to get a $1,000,000 because the economics make it worthwhile.

     
  13. So I was pondering……Why did Baden Boroughs’ auditor not catch this? He is a CPA! He is the Auditor for numerous Boroughs in the County. I counted at least 10. Is he being thorough enough with his audits? I mean, the paperwork they review is very detailed. If it were me- I would notice checks being cut from an account that mostly has deposits. There shouldn’t be many outgoing checks on a tax account. Just pondering, like I said.

     
    • From my understanding, checks were not being cut. Taxpayers’ checks were simply deposited into his account instead of the Boro/School accounts. So auditors are not looking at any checks, they simply are not there. Then he must’ve adjusted the taxpayers’ accounts because people would’ve been complaining if their taxes were unpaid when they had paid. This happened before in Beaver County, I think.

      This is why you should not pay with checks made out to individuals, they can just deposit them into their personal account instead of the taxing authority.

       
      • “Federal prosecutors say Keith had forged his wife’s signatures on checks and deposited them into his own bank account”

        The above comment lead me to believe there were checks cut from that account.

         
  14. Ask Connie J to figure this all out for you. She is a pro and this Kristek is a chump and so are all the people overseeing him and failed miserably at their jobs. They should all have to pay a piece of this back to the taxpayers. Alas. this type of situation is systemic throughout Beaver County in various forms. everyone feels entitled to taxpayers money. Also congratulations are in order for Fast Eddie Spendell and all you dickheads who voted for him and the “free” money we were all going to enjoy from the cash cow casinos and NO MORE property taxes. Anyone remember that? Good people will never run for office in this county because you have to be a thief or become blind to the obvious to get re-elected. just ask “Stonewall” Lozier and Hunker in the bunker Connie J. Grind it out and keep stalling for time. Wed do get the government we deserve from Hopewell cronyism to Beaver’s Storm Trooper Police mentality. Rock on. Can’t wait till all the people move here for the cracker plant and see what bumpkins they can rip off. It’ll be like watching an episode and Andy Griffith as the midget runs around being bamboozled by every con artist and slickster in the country. Just don’t cut my budget though. Midget man to the rescue.

     
    • You still da man Raven. Don’t let em get you down with negativity. Your responses are well written and well researched causing confusion amongst some of the people but very necessary to good debate and dialogue. Sorta grown up conversations! Even the dinosaurs died eventually!

       
  15. Everyone needs to start looking at their local elected people. Take a look at Badens elected people. They got into politics to help themselves

     
  16. The voters of Beaver County vote first for name recognition. Unfortunately, with gerrymandering a lot of our Harrisburg and Washington idiots run unopposed. Once elected their main goal is to get reelected and also to make sure they get enough money from the lobbyists for their votes. They really do not represent their constituents. I would rather write-in a name, “Anyone But Him/Her” as I did when our Treasurer was running. The vote is voided, but at least I did vote.

     
  17. I worked with Keith up until he disappeared from work (arrested). He was one of the nicest guys I’ve met and his was a peach. It came to us as a complete surprised when this showed up on the news. It’s a shame such an individual did this awful thing and is now paying the consequences. I know gambling addiction is real but I also know he knows right from wrong so there’s no excuse.

    I feel the prison sentence is “fair” but the payback terms for the money is not, however, there is no chance of him obtaining a job anywhere near $100k a year, heck not even $30k a year. There is just no way he will be able to pay that amount back with his lack of qualifications and a federal offense on his record.

     

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!

Please enter your name here