A letter from an anonymous tipster is what sparked the investigation that ultimately lead to the arrest of 20 people connected to $1.5 million in thefts from the Bensalem School District, officials said.
Bensalem's Superintendent Dr. David Baugh, who took his job in 2011, said he received a letter in February 2012 filled with allegations that school employees were not working. After only an hour and a half of investigating during a break in his schedule, the district head realized something was wrong. The letter appeared to be correct.
According to court records, the letter was submitted by a "hard working current employee of the district."
More tips on possible corruption in the district came pouring in over next few days, Baugh said.
The district hired a private inestigative firm to conduct survallance on two groundkeepers who were alleged not to have shown up for work, court records show.
Police then opened an investigation and began to uncover what lead to the arrests that took place in August and on Wednesday, Feb. 13, township Public Safety Director Fred Harran said.
Detectives uncovered a receipt for Eastern Autoparts that contained charges for car parts that belonged to a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle. Harran said on Wednesday that those parts were clearly not intended for a school district vehicle.
Through investigative work, including executing search warrants, and undercover operations, Harran said his officers began to put a case together. According to District Attorney David Heckler, a grand jury was also convened.
The public safety director said previous school superintendents may have received tips on the alleged wrongdoing and did nothing.
“We don’t believe any other superintendents were involved,” Heckler said, referring to criminal activity. Officials refused to say exactly how much previous school administrator knew.
Heckler and other officials said the corruption was very well veiled because of former business administrator James Myers’ involvement in the scheme. Myers handled most of the district’s finances and performed the yearly audit.
Myers retired in July 2012 after 28 years with the school district, officials said. Previous to Bensalem, Myers worked for the Philadelphia School District.
“These criminal acts stripped the district of taxpayer dollars intended to support the education of 6,300 Bensalem students and cast undeserved doubt on the integrity of the school district,” Baugh told reporters.
Law enforcement said they continue to investigate and more arrests in the case could be possible.
20 Arrested in $1.5M Bensalem Conspiracy Probe