Delco grand jury seeks records from Colwyn

Posted: February 27, 2014

COLWYN A Delaware County grand jury has been reviewing records from Colwyn, the tiny borough wracked by infighting and allegations of wrongdoing, according to the newly hired borough manager.

Paula Brown said she turned over the records last week to the grand jury from the hard drive of a borough police photocopier.

Brown said she did not know the subject or scope of the investigation but speculated it may be tied to numerous complaints made against the borough over the last few years.

"I am cooperating fully, 100 percent," Brown said Monday. "There have been a lot of improprieties, more than I have seen anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania. I've never witnessed such blatant misappropriation or spending of taxpayer money."

A spokeswoman for Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said Tuesday that she could not confirm or deny an investigation.

Brown said a recent audit ordered by the borough shows that people with access to borough ATM cards were using taxpayer money for personal expenses in 2011. She said those expenses included a dinner at a Montgomery County Applebee's and a purchase at a J.C. Penney Co. department store in Huntsville, Ala.

Although the borough has just 2,500 residents and is smaller than one square mile, it has the highest property tax rate in Delaware County, according to records.

Controversy has plagued Colwyn for the last six years, beginning with a shake-up of the borough's fire service in 2008 and culminating with a group of council members attempting to illegally expel other members last month.

The borough also faces several lawsuits, one alleging discrimination based on race and another alleging political retribution against police officers who voiced dissent.

Brown said she would continue to voluntarily forward any questionable findings to the District Attorney's Office.

"We're in active contact with them," she said.

Brown was hired by Colwyn's reorganized Borough Council last month following November's municipal election that changed the borough's balance of power. She said the audit of the borough's 2011 spending showed questionable appropriations.

"Paula Brown is doing a good job," said council member Frederick Lesher. "She is organizing stuff, and stuff is coming up that doesn't look right."

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