2 Franklin Mint Workers Charged With Model Thefts

Posted: May 20, 1993

CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Using secret tapes and video cameras, state police say they were able to witness two Franklin Mint employees carrying out plans to steal model cars and motorcycles from their employer.

The two have been charged in the thefts of miniature replicas worth a total of more than $380,000 from the Mint's Aston warehouse in Chester Township.

Charles A. Barr, 42, of the 2200 block of Bridgewater Road, Aston, and Edward W. Brous, 48, of Fallsington, were charged with four counts of theft, four counts of receiving stolen property and four counts of criminal conspiracy each.

According to an affidavit in Brookhaven District Court, state police watched as a former Mint employee, who agreed to be wired with a tape- recording device, met Brous at a tavern in Bristol Township last month. Brous told the former employee, identified as Joseph Meszaros of Bristol Township, that a shipment of the replicas would soon be ready.

A video surveillance on April 26 showed Brous and the former employee loading cases of the replicas into the former employee's car. Police then followed the former employee to a secluded area and recovered the replicas, valued at a total of $6,530.

A May 3 tape videotape showed the former employee paying Brous $850 for the replicas, the affidavit stated.

According to the affidavit, Brous, a driver for the Mint, would get the replicas from Barr at the warehouse and deliver them to Meszaros, who would sell them and divide the profits with Brous. Another employee, whose identity has not been confirmed by police, would then erase the computer records of the products, state police were told.

The investigation began in October of last year after the Mint received complaints from customers who said they had seen Mint model vehicles being sold at flea markets for $80, about $50 less than they had paid for similar replicas at the Mint.

Franklin Mint security officers determined that the flea markets had taken place in Carlisle, Hershey, and Englishtown, N.J., in October and November 1992.

Barry Ferris, the owner of Langhorne Speed Shop, told police he had bought some of the replica cars and Harley-Davidson motorcycles from Meszaros, who later told police he split his profits with Brous. Meszaros cooperated with police during the investigation, according to the affidavit; but state police said he faced charges in Bucks County.

Barr and Brous were arraigned Friday and released after posting 10 percent of $5,000 bail. Police said they expected to arrest more Mint employees in the case.

A preliminary hearing held yesterday in Brookhaven for Barr and Brous was continued to June 8.

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