W. Chester woman allegedly bilked boss of $925,000

Posted: February 05, 2008

Embezzling public funds has become the white-collar crime du jour in Delaware County, with at least five such cases making headlines in recent memory.

But Delco's embezzlement craze isn't confined to the public sector.

Yesterday, authorities charged a West Chester woman with bilking her boss of $925,000 over nine years using four different methods of fraud.

Authorities say Elizabeth Greenawalt, a "trusted employee" of more than 20 years at Environmental Equipment & Service Company, stole the money between 1997 and 2006.

When Ralph Bucci, the owner of the Marcus Hook-based company, discovered accounting irregularities in October 2006, Greenawalt admitted to stealing an amount of money "yet to be determined," but agreed to pay the company $250,000, according to the criminal complaint.

Bucci dug deeper, authorities say, and found more missing money - a lot more.

Greenawalt, whose duties included processing bank deposits, allegedly padded her payroll check with $134,000 over nine years, paying herself out of two different accounts.

She also is charged with stealing another $791,000 during that same period by altering the dollar amounts and changing the payees listed on checks signed by Bucci and by tricking him into approving payments to her personal credit card, among other methods.

Greenawalt, 65, was arraigned yesterday in Lower Chichester District Court and posted bail. She must wear an electronic home-monitoring device as she awaits her preliminary hearing.

"I knew this day was coming," she told Delaware County detectives William Gordon and Joseph Ryan when they arrived at her home in December, the criminal complaint states.

Her attorney, Joseph P. Green Jr., declined to comment on the case yesterday.

"I think we'll do our talking in court," he said.

Investigations and court proceedings have already revealed many details in alleged embezzlement cases involving public funds.

The Ridley School District's former payroll coordinator, Carol Ackley, arrested in December, is expected to plead guilty to stealing an estimated $574,000 from the district over the past six years.

Thornbury Township's treasurer, Deborah Perry, was fired last month amid an investigation into whether she misappropriated township money.

Mary Arnold, a former Southeast Delco School District employee, is doing 2 1/2 years in jail for helping herself to $287,000 in lunch money.

Folcroft District Court's former office manager, Lisa Marie Valletti, is serving five months of house arrest for skimming $2,750 in parking-ticket revenue.

And Forrest Finlay-Rabchuk, the former secretary-treasurer in Bethel Township, is on parole for stealing $413,000 to buy cars and homes for her relatives. *

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