Story by Richard Cook.
The former executive director of the Western
Pennsylvania chapter of the ALS Association was sentenced
Tuesday after admitting to stealing more than $80,000 from the nonprofit
Michael Bernarding, 33, of Hazelwood pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of theft and three counts of misapplication of entrusted funds.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office said Judge Edward Borkowski sentenced Bernarding to 11 ½ to 23 months in jail plus seven year’s probation. Bernarding was also ordered to repay $102,000 in restitution.
The Western Pennsylvania chapter of the ALS Association helps people and families who are living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative ailment. Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS attacks the brain and spinal cord and has no known cure.
Bernarding worked for the Millvale-based Western Pennsylvania chapter for seven years before the discovery of payroll discrepancies prompted its board to fire him in April of 2011.
"This is a tragedy," board President Eric Zydel said of Bernarding's firing and arrest. "The patients we serve are already victimized, never mind being victimized by a person who's supposed to be taking care of them.”