PHOTOS: 7 more arrests in Bensalem School District corruption ring
The Bensalem Township Police Department on Wednesday announced the arrests of seven more people in connection with a wide-ranging, 18-month-long corruption investigation into the Bensalem Township School District.
The second wave of arrests came about six months after 20 people – many of them past or current Bensalem School District employees – were arrested for allegedly cheating taxpayers out of $1.5 million in two separate schemes – a “ghost employee” scam in which grounds crew workers were clocked in and paid for hours they never worked, and a theft and resale ring of school district vehicles and auto repair and replacement parts.
While investigating the “ghost employee” scheme, police allegedly found four members of the school district grounds crew also conspired to steal thousands of gallons of gasoline each week over a five-year period, resulting in the theft of over 13,000 gallons of gas with an estimated cost to the school district of $35,000.
Those grounds crew members were identified as:
All four men turned themselves in Wednesday and were charged with third-degree felony theft, conspiracy and receiving stolen property.
Bail was set for each suspect at $25,000 except for Krex, who was being held on $50,000 bail.
While investigating the auto parts theft and distribution ring, police said they further discovered bus driver Theresa Adams, 63, conspired with head mechanic Frederick Lange to steal $1,000 worth of school district automotive parts.
Authorities also allegedly found Bruce Binder, 63, of CCC Heavy Duty Truck Parts in Bensalem, conspired with Lange to ship at least four 55 gallon drums of antifreeze – which cost the school district $1,200 – to Smith’s Automotive in Bristol Township, where they were not used for school vehicles.
Adams and Binder are both charged with first-degree misdemeanor theft, conspiracy and receiving stolen property and were Wednesday being held on $25,000 unsecured bail.
Investigators said they most recently learned of thefts being committed by Struble Elementary head custodian Frances Zemartis, 55, who as she cleaned the school was allegedly stealing school district property and teachers’ personal property.
Police said Zemartis stole $1,000 worth of classroom equipment, teaching props, craft materials, toys and other classroom related items.
Zemartis was charged with first-degree misdemeanor theft, conspiracy and receiving stolen property and held on $25,000 unsecured bail.
Police said the most recent wave of arrests “conclude the corruption probe into the Bensalem Township School District” and that the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office is currently working on recouping hundreds of thousands of dollars “as part of restitution to the school district.”
Still, investigators are asking anyone with information regarding past or current corruption or thefts within the Bensalem Township School District to call Det. Sgt. Bill McVey at 215-633-3758 or Det. Mark Kelly at 215-633-3664.