By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A Philadelphia man has admitted in Montgomery County court that he tampered with utility meters in the five county area, reducing the monthly electrical bills for some PECO customers.

Over three years, prosecutors say Marcelino Cuadra would go to homes and businesses and manipulate the meters so they would read less — or at times — nothing at all. In return, they say, the 47-year-old man would be paid.

Cuadra pleaded guilty to corrupt organizations and theft of services.

The loss to PECO is nearly $350,000. Prosecutor Sophia Polites says there is no deal on the table as far as sentencing.

“There are hard-working people in this country who go to work every day and pay their bills,” she says. ““The fact that other individuals are stealing while other people are working hard in order to pay their bills is a significant problem that we certainly try to work through and make sure that we prosecute those cases.”

Some of the homeowners and business owners have also been charged. Polites says PECO fraud investigators noticed some irregularities in the accounts and that touched off the investigation.

Authorities say Cuadra was not a former PECO employee or licensed electrician and had no training to conduct any type of maintenance on the meters.

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