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January 23, 2019

Pennsylvania man desperate to build Wendy's restaurant faces felony charges

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Police lights arrests crime Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

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A Luzerne County man who tried to speed up the construction of a Wendy's restaurant is facing multiple felony charges for allegedly forging more than a dozen signatures on construction documents.

Austin C. Thomas, 26, of Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania, allegedly faked the signatures of 14 people on the building plans for a proposed Wendy's location on Buckaroo Lane, authorities in Spring Township said. Investigators also allege Thomas forged two other approval dates, as well.

Thomas was an engineer at HRG Engineering, a firm with locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The firm's manager told police he a received an email from Thomas last month promising that he had received all of the required signatures on Dec. 5, according to the Centre Daily Times. A human resources spokesperson reportedly said Thomas "understood why" he was terminated when the allegations came to light.

One of the signatures that Thomas allegedly forged belonged to the owner of an engineering and surveying company. In early December, the owner said he received a call from Thomas, who claimed it was an "emergency" that he hadn't yet signed the building plans. Police said the owner of the company never heard from Thomas again.

Thomas is charged with 16 felony counts of forgery and was released on bail.

Police said they believe the Wendy's will still be built, but its construction may be delayed.

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