Two Lackawanna County businessmen who appeared to have escaped criminal liability for selling but not delivering street lights to several local communities will be required to stand trial after all. The Pennsylvania Superior Court reinstated all but one of the criminal charges against the two men, and they will be required to stand trial in Lehigh County for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The two men owned and managed a firm in Lackawanna County called Municipal Energy Managers (MEM). MEM convinced public officials in several counties and local communities that they could save money by purchasing streetlights through MEM. The two defendants accepted payment for the lights but never delivered them. Two county district attorneys instituted criminal proceedings against the two men, who were convicted in two trials. The judge in the Lehigh County trial then dismissed the charges, ruling that the case involved only a breach of contract and not criminal behavior.
The county appealed the dismissal, and the Superior Court overturned that ruling. The court was careful to point out that is ruling was not a determination of guilt or innocence but merely that the two men must face another trial on charges of theft and conspiracy.
This case demonstrates the thin line that often separates a failed but legitimate business transaction from white collar crime. Anyone who faces such charges may find that consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney can yield a helpful assessment of the facts, an estimate of the chances of acquittal and a workable defense strategy.
Source: Lehigh Valley Live, “Lehigh County charges reinstated against streetlight scammers,” Sarah Cassi, April 15, 2015