Ex-Chester July 4th chief gets probation for embezzlement

CHESTER, W.Va. – The former chairman of the Chester Celebration Committee has received probation after pleading guilty to a felony count of embezzlement.

David Nurmi, 72, of Chester, faced nine counts when they were first filed in Hancock County Magistrate Court in April and later transferred to Hancock County Circuit Court. Eight of the counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement reached with Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis and approved by Judge Martin J. Gaughan.

Nurmi, once the chief organizer of Chester’s annual Fourth of July celebration, was placed on one year of supervised probation in lieu of jail time. Gaughan ordered him to serve 40 hours of community service for the city of Chester and to make restitution in the amount of $1,172.31, which has already been paid.

Nurmi waived indictment by the grand jury and pleaded guilty to a bill of information which alleged that, between May 1, 2013, and March 23, 2014, he used $2,500 of Chester Celebration Committee money for his own purposes.

In a sworn statement, Nurmi told a West Virginia state trooper that he made withdrawals to “satisfy debt that had been incurred by extended family members,” the original complaint said.

The state police began its investigation in March after being contacted by then-Chester Mayor Ken Morris about concerns having to do with missing Chester Celebration Committee funds, the complaint said.

Nurmi declined comment on the sentencing but has contended all along that the charges were the result of a misunderstanding that could have been resolved outside the court system.

The plea agreement stipulates that once the probation and community service is done, the charge will be dismissed.

Nurmi was represented by Youngstown attorney David Mascio.