Richard L. Reese Jr., the Lancaster highway superintendent who tangled with some FBI agents in April and lost a Democratic primary race last week, pleaded guilty to a felony charge Monday in federal court.
As a result, he has vacated his office and is no longer receiving a paycheck, the town attorney said.
If U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara follows advisory sentencing guidelines, the 57-year-old Reese could be given probation or a prison term of up to six months.
Sentencing was set for Jan. 21.
In court papers, Reese admitted he gave a false answer to FBI agents when they arrived at his home early on the morning of April 1 and asked about some drain tile that was installed at his home with town funds.
He also told Arcara that, in the past, he has sometimes sold scrap metal that belonged to the town and kept the proceeds for himself.
The money from those sales totaled about $2,900, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana said in court papers.
He put $1,000 of in his personal account with a credit union and gave $400 to a relative to help pay off a loan, Reese admitted.
On leave from his job, with pay, since the confrontation April 1, Reese was defeated by a wide margin by Daniel J. Amatura in last week's Democratic Party primary for the highway post.
The job pays almost $72,000 a year.
"As a result of his felony guilty plea, he is no longer in office and is no longer being paid," Town Attorney John M. Dudziak said late Monday.
Reese was accompanied to court by attorney Joel L. Daniels.
He pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a federal agent. The highway chief admitted that he gave the FBI false information when agents asked him where the pipe installed at his home had been purchased.
Daniels and other supporters say Reese is a dedicated, hard-working town official, who also serves as a volunteer firefighter. According to Daniels, Reese was upset about the recent death of his wife when he got into a confrontation with FBI agents.
Agents went to Reese's home to question him about the alleged diversion of some town funds, Campana said.
The FBI said Reese became upset about some of the questions, made suicidal remarks and struggled with agents.
Daniels said the drainage work done at Reese's home also served to protect an embankment that is on town property.
Reese's term in office was to have lasted the rest of this year.