2 charged in $800K Pa. streetlight plan fraud

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A man who testified he paid bribes to a northeastern Pennsylvania county commissioner is one of two people charged with bilking a township out of more than $800,000.

A grand jury presentment unsealed Monday accuses P.J. McLaine and Robert Kearns of defrauding Bethlehem Township, Northampton County as part of a streetlight privatization plan.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli says their company, Municipal Energy Managers Inc., overstated the cost of buying streetlights from a utility company, then pocketed the difference.

McLaine was granted immunity from prosecution in an unrelated Lackawanna County corruption case. He testified he helped arrange $360,000 in bribes to then-Commissioner Robert Cordaro, who was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

McLaine has an unlisted phone number. A message left for Kearns wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

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