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Accused Township Streetlight Crooks Surrender

Kearns and McLaine arraigned on charges they stole $832,000 from Bethlehem Township.

 

Two Lackawanna County men, partners in a business paid to broker a deal to buy Bethlehem Township’s street lights on behalf of the township government, surrendered to authorities Tuesday and were arraigned on theft and other charges.

Patrick J. McLaine, 65, of 201 West St., Elmhurst Township, and Robert J. Kearns, 48, of 1025 Park St., Scranton, were both released after each posting 10 percent of their $50,000 bail.

McLaine was also required to surrender his passport and, pending trial, neither man is permitted to leave Pennsylvania without prior court authorization.

The two men, working as Municipal Energy Managers Inc., were hired in 2007 by Bethlehem Township officials to work toward buying the township’s streetlights from PPL Corp. to save municipal energy costs.

They were paid $832,000 to begin the process.

But MEM never delivered services to the township, which ultimately sued McLaine and Kearns in court. On Monday, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced that of theft, misapplication of funds and conspiracy against both men.

The men allegedly took the money and used it to pay for personal expenses, including a trip to Disney World.

Their arraignment on Tuesday was done before District Judge Joseph Barner, who scheduled a preliminary hearing on February 17.

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