18 charged in Bensalem schools theft ring

Posted: February 14, 2013

EIGHTEEN PEOPLE have been arrested and charged with bilking the Bensalem Township School District out of big money.

Officials announced the arrests Wednesday after a months-long investigation found that nearly $1 million in vehicles, bus tires, batteries and other auto parts had been stolen from the district and sold for personal gain.

A separate investigation determined that four employees of the district's grounds crew, who were among the 18 arrested, conned the district by clocking hours they never worked. One of those employees may have been a no-show for up to three years, investigators found.

The 18 arrested, which include nine current and former district employees, brought to 20 the number of those accused in the corruption investigation. The district's former head mechanic, Frederick Lange, and former mechanic Martin Chappell were arrested last summer and charged with selling district property.

The alleged decadelong theft scheme reached the level of district business manager Jack Myers, who is charged with theft for allegedly failing to make required disposition of funds and misapplication of entrusted property.

Myers, a Philadelphia School District official until 1999, stepped down from the Bensalem post last summer, though the Inquirer reported that he was still employed by the district in some fashion.

Tom Kenny, Myers' attorney, said his client "vehemently denies" any criminal activity. Any claimed negligence should have played out in the civil arena, he added.

Myers, of Hendrix Street near Halstead, Somerton, posted bail shortly after being arraigned. He declined to comment when reached at home.

Others arrested include local businessmen who allegedly received and distributed stolen property.

More than half of those arrested reside in the township, where school property taxes rose last year.

The district, in a statement, called the alleged thefts "disappointing" and said new controls and safeguards have been put in place to prevent such crimes.

By Wednesday night, many of the defendants had posted bail, according to court documents. At least five had retained attorneys.

Officials said more arrests may follow.


On Twitter: @AJFichera

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|