‘YOU ARE A THIEF’

EX-UP­LAND POL GETS 65 TO 348 MONTHS FOR BORO KICK­BACK SCAM

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Alex Rose arose@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @arosedelco on Twitter

ME­DIA COURT­HOUSE » For­mer Up­land Bor­ough Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ed Mitchell was sen­tenced Fri­day to

65 to 348 months in a state cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity for a years-long kick­back scheme involving the owner of an Ed­dy­s­tone se­cu­rity sys­tem com­pany.

“You are a thief,” Com­mon Pleas Court Judge John Ca­puzzi told Mitchell be­fore im­pos­ing sen­tence. “You stole from the tax­pay­ers un­der the guise of be­ing Robin Hood, ex­cept you were the re­cip­i­ent of the al­leged benev­o­lence. You are greedy. You are pompous. You vi­o­lated your oath of of­fice, you den­i­grated the po­si­tion of bor­ough coun­cil­man, you de­filed the Bor­ough of Up­land and you made fools of the elec­torate.”

Mitchell was con­victed fol­low­ing a jury trial in July on 42 of 44 counts, in­clud­ing six counts each of theft by de­cep­tion and re­stricted ac­tiv­i­ties, 12 counts of crim­i­nal con­spir­acy and

18 counts of bribery.

He was some­what iron­i­cally ac­quit­ted on two counts of in­ter­cept com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­cern­ing se­cret cam­eras in­stalled in bor­ough of­fices, the dis­cov­ery of which led to his down­fall.

Mitchell, 76, of Fourth Street, a Repub­li­can, served on coun­cil for 17 years un­til his res­ig­na­tion Mon­day, in­clud­ing eight as pres­i­dent un­til he was re­placed by Christine Peter­son in 2016.

Thomas Wil­lard, for­mer owner of Ed­dy­s­tone se­cu­rity sys­tem com­pany Lo­gan Tech­nol­ogy So­lu­tions, tes­ti­fied at trial that he paid kick­backs to Mitchell over a pe­riod of about six years in ex­change for se­cur­ing no­bid con­tracts at bor­ough prop­er­ties.

“He would make sure that the jobs would go through prop­erly,” said Wil­lard. “We worked out a deal where I would cash the checks and he would get some money from each check from the jobs.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found there were more than 275 in­voices and pay­ments to Lo­gan to­tal­ing $914,000 be­tween Oc­to­ber 2009 and De­cem­ber 2015.

Wil­lard en­tered an open guilty plea to all 82 counts against him prior to Mitchell’s trial and was sen­tenced Thurs­day to 23 months of in­ter­me­di­ate pun­ish­ment, largely for his co­op­er­a­tion with the case.

Among the con­tracts pro­vided to Lo­gan was a $30,300 pay­ment for po­lice dash­board cam­eras that Wil­lard said he never or­dered. Wil­lard said he and Mitchell con­cocted a story that the equip­ment had been stolen and that Wil­lard should re­bill the bor­ough for more than $15,000 in re­place­ment parts.

Wil­lard and Mitchell were or­dered to pay joint resti­tu­tion of $45,762 to the bor­ough for those bills.

Jurors also heard from nu­mer­ous bor­ough per­son­nel and Delaware County Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Di­vi­sion De­tec­tive Timothy Deery, who recorded an in­ter­view with Mitchell while serv­ing a search war­rant at his home in Au­gust 2016.

“Was there a time when you signed off on … that check know­ing you were go­ing to get part of that nut?” Deery asked in that in­ter­view.

“Not all the time, but there were times, yes,” replied Mitchell on the tape.

Mitchell es­ti­mated it had hap­pened no more than 25 or 30 times over five years in that in­ter­view, but said it could be higher. He also said the pay­ments he re­ceived were never more than $800.

But one for­mer Lo­gan em­ployee tes­ti­fied that Wil­lard had once di­rected him to re­trieve a $5,000 kick­back from a check cash­ing busi­ness and de­liver it to Mitchell at his house.

In ad­di­tion to the kick­back scheme, Mitchell was ac­cused of se­cretly record­ing fel­low coun­cil mem­bers and oth­ers us­ing covert cam­eras and mi­cro­phones that Wil­lard placed in the sec­re­tary’s of­fice and coun­cil cham­bers, al­legedly at Mitchell’s di­rec­tion. The cam­eras were dis­cov­ered by then-mayor and

cur­rent bor­ough Man­ager Michael Ci­ach in March 2016. Wil­lard tes­ti­fied that Mitchell di­rected him to in­stall the cam­eras and mi­cro­phones, and that Mitchell had re­mote ac­cess to the record­ing sys­tem through his phone.

The dis­cov­ery of the cam­eras prompted the CID in­ves­ti­ga­tion that even­tu­ally re­sulted in Mitchell’s and Wil­lard’s ar­rests.

Ci­ach told the judge Fri­day that Mitchell was a vin­dic­tive man who would go af­ter any­thing he could to gain lever­age over you if you crossed him – in­clud­ing loved ones – and then brag about it af­ter­ward.

Ca­puzzi also heard from bor­ough res­i­dent Denise Craw­ford, who said she had been duped into con­vinc­ing neigh­bors that Mitchell was trust­wor­thy and wor­thy of their vote, as well as cur­rent coun­cil Vice Pres­i­dent Moira Craw­ford, who said Mitchell had vi­o­lated his oath to pro­tect and serve the bor­ough.

“Mr. Mitchell lined his pock­ets with tax­payer monies and while do­ing so harmed ev­ery res­i­dent of our bor­ough,” said Moira Craw­ford, speak­ing on be­half of coun­cil. “The funds that Mr. Mitchell took could have been used for projects within our bor­ough, in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to, ser­vices for se­nior ci­ti­zens, our youth, cap­i­tal im­prove­ments, as well as equip­ment, to name a few.”

Mitchell did not speak pend­ing an ap­peal on ad­vice of co­coun­sel John Flan­nery and Wil­liam Davis, but his daugh­ter and wife ad­dressed the court.

“My fa­ther has made the choice all his life to be the man who gets things done,” said Pamela Mitchell. “He has held me ac­count­able, been bru­tally hon­est, ex­pected much and wanted lit­tle. He has done noth­ing but try to make my life, my fam­ily’s life, bet­ter, and the same can be said with the com­mu­nity he served and the town which he calls home.”

“I’ve never known Ed to take a bribe or do any­thing il­le­gal that he has been charged with,” said Mitchell’s wife of 49 years, Linda. “While Ed doesn’t at­tend church as much as I would like, he has been a faith­ful, lov­ing hus­band, a great fa­ther and a truly good neigh­bor to our com­mu­nity and school.”

Flan­nery ar­gued that Mitchell suf­fers from a host of health prob­lems and that the six years sought by As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Mary Mann amounted to a life sen­tence.

Flan­nery char­ac­ter­ized the crimes Mitchell was con­victed of as “a blip in the radar” of an oth­er­wise ex­em­plary life, with no prior con­vic­tions on his record. He said Mitchell does not live a lav­ish life­style and has re­signed his po­si­tion on coun­cil amidst the hu­mil­i­a­tion of his con­vic­tion.

But Mann noted Mitchell had only re­signed on Mon­day – af­ter re­ceiv­ing his monthly stipend last Thurs­day. She added that that any in­fir­mi­ties he might be suffering from could be ad­dressed by the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions and that Mitchell still does not ap­pear to have taken any re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions.

“In fact, if you look at the pre­sen­tence in­ves­ti­ga­tion … he claims he didn’t do it,” she said. “He doesn’t care what he did. As he stands here to­day, I would sug­gest to you that he still doesn’t care what he did. He didn’t care when he was do­ing it and he doesn’t care now.”

Mann asked that Ca­puzzi im­pose a prison sen­tence to send a mes­sage that this type of be­hav­ior can­not be tol­er­ated by elected of­fi­cials. The judge, who also spent 16 years on Yeadon Bor­ough Coun­cil and the Marple Town­ship Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, let Mitchell have it with both bar­rels be­fore im­pos­ing sen­tence.

“You ex­hib­ited to­tal dis­dain for the mayor, the other mem­bers of coun­cil, the bor­ough em­ploy­ees and the peo­ple of Up­land,” Ca­puzzi said. “Much like a child preda­tor, you slowly groomed these some­what naïve and trust­ing per­sons into think­ing you had the best in­ter­ests of the bor­ough at heart. As a re­sult, coun­cil – to its detri­men­tal re­liance – ab­di­cated much of its re­spon­si­bil­ity and over­sight. You evolved into a ruth­less dic­ta­tor who took re­venge on any­one who had the au­dac­ity to ques­tion your ac­tions.”

Ca­puzzi added that he found Mitchell’s de­nial of re­ceiv­ing kick­backs in the pre­sen­tence re­port was “pure baloney” and that he de­served no le­niency due to his age or health.

In ad­di­tion to prison time, Mitchell will serve four years of pro­ba­tion and will re­fund his monthly stipend for Septem­ber to the bor­ough. He will be el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease on good time in 54 months.

Flan­nery asked that his client be al­lowed to re­main on bail pend­ing the ap­peals process, but the judge de­nied the mo­tion and or­dered Mitchell taken into cus­tody im­me­di­ately.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

ED MITCHELL

Ed Mitchell

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