7 arrested in theft of products, services

Posted: February 16, 2012

Five Cinnaminson Sewerage Authority employees and two others were arrested Wednesday on charges including stealing equipment and operating a business using the authority's supplies, Burlington County officials said.

The charges also include creating false invoices to order personal items such as televisions and George Foreman Grills, according to Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi and Cinnaminson Township Public Safety Director Michael King.

Officials said the accused received about $44,000 in merchandise and services.

An investigation began in December after sewerage commissioners discovered during an audit that a backhoe was missing. The backhoe turned up at a Pennsylvania property that belonged to the father of two workers.

Superintendent Paul Phillips, 54, of Cinnaminson; Assistant superintendent William Yannarella, 53, of Delran; Jeffrey Lehman, 22, of Cinnaminson, an operator; and Phillips' son-in-law, Carmelo Colon, 26, of Cinnaminson, were involved in operating J&B Environmental Services, a company that provided sewer maintenance to the Wyndham Hotel in Mount Laurel. In several instances, Phillips directed authority employees to do J&B's work during regular work hours.

Phillips ordered parts and supplies with authority funds for J&B's work at the hotel, officials said.

Mike Colon, 22, of Cinnaminson, is the fifth employee charged. Joseph B. Lehman, 26, an authority mechanical subcontractor, and his father, Joseph J. Lehman Jr., 62, both of Cinnaminson, are the two non-employees facing charges including theft.

A warrant was issued for another authority employee, Scott Mayes Jr., 21, of Delran, who has not yet been taken into custody. Mayes, who worked part-time, was charged with corruption of public resources and conspiracy.

Several weeks ago, the authority suspended Phillips, Yannarella, and Jeffrey Lehman after an internal investigation with the assistance of Cinnaminson police, a spokeswoman said. Employees charged will be terminated, officials said.

Phillips also used authority funds to order personal items from Contractor Services, a Camden business, for him and other employees, officials said.

Many of the personal items were designed for use in vehicles registered to authority employees, such as Global Positioning System units; ATV tires and chains; and Pioneer audiovisual receivers and speakers.

Jeffrey Lehman, Joseph B. Lehman, and Joseph L. Lehman Jr., are also charged with taking the backhoe to their property in Scotrun, Pa., around late 2008 and 2009 for personal use and work-for-hire purposes, authorities said.

Contact staff writer Darran Simon at 856-779-3829, dsimon@phillynews.com or @darransimon on Twitter.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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