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Glenolden mayor charged in funeral-home thefts

When Delaware County detectives knocked on his door, the mayor of Glenolden knew what they wanted. "I was wondering when you guys were coming to talk with me," Theodore P. Bathurst told investigators, according to court papers.

When Delaware County detectives knocked on his door, the mayor of Glenolden knew what they wanted.

"I was wondering when you guys were coming to talk with me," Theodore P. Bathurst told investigators, according to court papers.

Yesterday, Bathurst was charged with stealing more than $78,000 held in escrow for clients who pre-paid burial expenses at his former funeral business, the Delaware County district attorney announced.

Bathurst, a Republican, has been mayor since 1994. He did not seek renomination in the spring primary. His term expires in January, according to county officials.

According to court documents, Bathurst, 68, sold the McCausland-Bathurst Funeral Home at 202 Chester Pike in August 2007. At the time, he signed a document saying all escrow accounts were up to date and fully funded.

Bathurst is charged with theft, deceptive business practices, securing execution of documents by deception, receiving stolen property, and misapplication of entrusted property, according to court documents.

As he left the courthouse after his arrest, Bathurst did not comment.

The funeral home's current owner, Patricia L. Garrity, discovered the funds missing when she tried to access an escrow account upon the death of a client in March 2008. She declined comment on the matter.

G. Michael Green, district attorney, said investigators discovered 19 escrow accounts for prepaid customers were closed and the funds in them transferred to the funeral home's checking account. Money from one such account was deposited into the general account and not into escrow.

The discrepancy was not detected during a bookkeeping review at the time of sale, according to Green.

"These actions are not only criminal but insensitive to the families he was charged to serve, and they were cowardly," said Green.

Garrity has since paid expenses for several funerals at a significant loss to herself, according to Green.

In two cases, Bathurst had taken out a loan against the life insurance policies used as payment by the customers. Bathurst used the money to pay an outstanding debt to the IRS, according to court papers.

Bathurst said he used the money to pay various bills to keep the business going and knew the accounts did not exist when he sold the business, according Green.

Bathurst admitted to detectives he was "very poor at keeping accurate business records," according to court records.

Michael Puppio, the borough solicitor, released a statement saying that as mayor Bathurst is not involved in borough finances. The borough was not aware whether the mayor intends to remain in office until the end of this term.

He was released on $100,000 unsecured bail and waived his prelimary hearing.