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Last updated: February 20. 2013 4:26AM - 1078 Views

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Two executives of a Lackawanna County company, Municipal Energy Managers Inc. have been charged with theft, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and conspiracy for taking $160,182 from the Borough of Coplay in Lehigh County.

Robert J. Kearns, president of MEM of Moscow, and Patrick McLaine, secretary and treasurer of MEM, have been charged with the offenses.

Pursuant to an agreement entered into by Kearns and McLaine and the borough, signed April 2009, Kearns and McLaine, as agents, on behalf of the Borough of Coplay, were to purchase streetlights located within the borough from PPL Corp.

The agreement called for the purchase to take place within 12 months of the agreement. It is alleged that Kearns and McLaine did no work, did not purchase the streetlights as promised and spent all the money.

On Jan. 11, 2013, a Northampton County jury convicted Kearns and McLaine of felony theft for stealing $800,000 from Bethlehem Township by taking money from the township, agreeing to negotiate with PPL Corp. to buy the township‚??s streetlights and instead writing themselves checks after they received the funds.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Lehigh County Chief Detective Michael Millan and Coplay Chief of Police Vincent Genovese:

In April 2009, the Borough of Coplay entered into a business agreement with M.E.M. in which the company agreed to act on behalf of the borough to purchase streetlights within the borough from PPL Corp.

The borough entered into a formal written contract with M.E.M. that required the borough to pay $160,182.

On June 8, 2009, the borough made a payment of $50,000, and on June 15, 2009, the borough made a second payment of $110,182. Borough officials said both checks had been accepted and had been cleared.

The investigation revealed that M.E.M. never entered into formal negotiations with PPL on behalf of the borough for the purchase of streetlights.

Further investigation determined that the two checks from Coplay were deposited into the bank accounts of M.E.M. but that Kearns and McLaine spent the money and that M.E.M.‚??s bank accounts showed no funds. M.E.M. has since filed for bankruptcy.
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