The former mayor of Glenolden, Delaware County, pleaded guilty yesterday to theft, admitting that he embezzled money from his former funeral business.

Theodore Bathurst, 68, acknowledged that he had taken more than $78,000 held in escrow for clients who had prepaid burial expenses. His attorney, W. David Breen, said Internal Revenue Service and bank debts had left Bathurst in financial difficulties.

According to court documents, Bathurst sold the McCausland-Bathurst Funeral Home at 202 Chester Pike, Glenolden, in August 2007. At the time, he signed a document saying all escrow accounts were up to date and fully funded. The funeral home's current owner discovered the money missing when she tried to access an escrow account upon the death of a client in March 2008.

Bathurst was Glenolden mayor from 1994 until August, when he resigned four days after he was charged. His sentencing has been scheduled for the spring. - Mari A. Schaefer