CLEARFIELD – The trial got under way Wednesday for a former administrator of the Curwensville Moose accused of burglarizing the lodge and stealing over $10,000 in July of 2019.
Edward C. Hockenberry, 63, of Curwensville is charged by Clearfield-based state police with felony burglary, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
Corporal John Bacher IV, currently stationed at PSP Punxsutawney, said on July 29, 2019, he responded to a reported burglary at the Curwensville Moose Lodge.
He said there were no signs of forced entry at the main door. In addition, he said there’s an alarm and surveillance system, but the alarm never activated.
He completed a walkthrough of the establishment and discovered a secure drop box area, where its money was kept until banking was done, had been broken into.
Bacher testified that it was believed to be an “inside job” by a key- and passcode-holder. The current administrator provided a list of keyholder names, which included Hockenberry.
Bacher conducted interviews with all keyholders and also reviewed video surveillance footage, beginning at midnight when the bar closed.
He said the surveillance video showed a blanketed person enter at approximately 12:08 a.m., deactivate the alarm system and proceed to a back room. They exit the lodge a short time later.
Shaolin Caldwell, who was the bartender July 28-29, 2019, said Hockenberry had been in the bar for an extended period that night and made concerning statements.
She said he was still upset over being removed as administrator earlier that spring. Hockenberry didn’t stay until close and instead left shortly before 10 p.m.
She said she closed and locked up around midnight. Her boyfriend picked her up and they traveled to Snappy’s Convenience Store before meeting friends at the lodge’s campground.
Caldwell said when they returned to the lodge, she noticed Hockenberry’s vehicle in the lot. At the time, she didn’t think much of it and they went to meet friends.
Andrea Bauman, former secretary, said she arrived at the lodge July 29, 2019 and discovered its top lock on the main entrance was unlocked. Inside she found the security system was off.
She thought the bartender must have forgotten to fully lock up, began looking for the work schedule and found the secure area where money was kept had been broken into.
She said money had been removed from the drop box and the door was open to the liquor cabinet. Money kept in the liquor cabinet from Pennsylvania Skills machines had also been removed.
She said lodge employees – such as bartenders – have access to the liquor cabinet, but only Charles Cupp as administrator has access to the secure drop box area where lodge money is kept.
Bauman said she pulled surveillance footage and discovered someone had entered afterhours. She reported the incident to Cupp, and state police were contacted.
Cupp said he took over as administrator in spring 2019, replacing Hockenberry. He said only a limited number of people had keys and the passcode for the lodge, one of whom was Hockenberry.
Cupp said upon calculation of receipts, he determined that approximately $10,400 in cash was stolen, noting there was a larger amount than usual because he had been unable to make a deposit.
Several other witnesses who are currently and were formerly affiliated with the Curwensville Moose, all testified that they never gave out the lodge keys and passcode.
Bacher said through “process of elimination,” those keyholders were ruled out and Hockenberry became his main person of interest following his interview with Caldwell.
He said she saw Hockenberry’s car at the lodge when she returned 20 minutes after close. Bacher then saw a vehicle matching her description when he interviewed Hockenberry at his home.
Though Hockenberry denied he committed the crimes, Bacher said he compared surveillance footage from earlier in night to that from the time of burglary.
Bacher said the suspect appeared to be wearing clothing that matched what Hockenberry was wearing at the bar earlier. They also appeared to have similar height, build and gait.
The case is being prosecuted by District Attorney Ryan Sayers. Hockenberry is represented by Defense Attorney Robert J. Freeman of Ebensburg.
Sayers rested his case late Wednesday afternoon. The defense will continue presentation of its case at 9 a.m. Thursday in Courtroom No. 1 before President Judge Fredric Ammerman.