By David Madden and Joe Holden
MEDIA, Pa, (CBS) — Criminal charges have been filed against an Upland Borough councilman and a Downingtown business owner. Authorities say the pair conspired to bypass bidding procedures to install almost a million dollars worth of surveillance equipment in borough offices and the council meeting room, with kickbacks allegedly given to the councilman.
Seventy-three-year old Edward Mitchell is alleged to have taken over $88,000 in kickbacks in return for directing business to Logan Technology Solutions owner Thomas Willard at inflated prices starting in 2009, when Mitchell became Council President. Mitchell was replaced as president this past January.
Mitchell was shielded by his lawyers as he was lead out of the Delaware County Courthouse. In handcuffs, Mitchell wasn’t interested in taking a barrage of questions from reporters.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan says the pair allegedly kept individual invoices under $10,000 to avoid scrutiny, and used a check cashing agency to handle the payoffs. Prosecutors say Mitchell’s scheme, which they described as disgusting, gets worse.
In addition, police dashcams were twice billed, never delivered, and secret cameras disguised as motion detectors recorded council meetings and more. Detectives say the the covert video system was in place for years.
It’s alleged Mitchell ordered Ex-Borough Police Chief Nelson Ocasio not to investigate, so Upland Borough wouldn’t “look bad.”
Borough officials say Ocasio was terminated in February, following what law enforcement sources characterized the false arrest of the current president of council, Christine Peterson. She was cleared in less than 24 hours after the district attorney’s office intervened, requesting that charges be dismissed.
Both Willard and Mitchell were released on $100,000 unsecured bail, over the objections of an assistant district attorney.
Both men surrendered to authorities and Mitchell is said to be cooperating in the investigation. He remains, for now, on borough council.
Both men were released on $100,000 unsecured bail following an arraignment in front of District Justice Walter Strohl. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 28.