DANVILLE — A former Danville sewage treatment plant employee is free on bail after being charged with theft of more than $20,000 worth of scrap metal from the sewer plant construction site where he allegedly spent $15,000 on lunches and parties for workers there.
Dominic Eugene Mottern, 42, of 901A Mount Zion Drive, was arraigned Tuesday by Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder and released on 1 percent of $50,000 bail.
Mottern estimated there were 50 construction workers at the site and during four to six weeks he probably spent $300 on each worker for lunch, drinks and ice daily. He estimated he spent nearly $15,000 on parties, food and drinks for them. He told police the lunches included hamburgers, hot dogs and occasionally pizza. He didn’t keep receipts for his purchases but gave police a hand-written expenditure list for everything he bought with the scrap metal money. His list accounted for $4,245, police said.
Mottern also admitted to hauling scrap on Saturdays, accumulating metal and selling it and keeping the proceeds.
State Trooper Adrian Bordner charged Mottern with theft, receiving stolen property, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, tampering with records and misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions from Nov. 2, 2011, through Jan. 30 at the plant at 200 Northumberland St.
Danville borough officials announced some time ago an investigation was being conducted about missing scrap from the plant.
According to the charges, Mottern was told to take all scrap metal to a scrap yard and all money he received was to be kept in a junk fund for the sewer department. He was told to keep all money, receipts and invoices from the transactions at the sewer department.
Mottern told Bordner he would haul the scrap from the plant to Booth and Son’s Tire and Iron Inc. and would receive payment by check or cash. He would put the payments in a cigar box at the sewer plant. When he was paid by check, he would immediately cash it since it was made payable to him and then put the cash in the box.
He told police he would always haul the scrap metal in a borough-owned truck. He said he would always throw the receipts and invoices away and never kept track of how much money he was receiving or what he was purchasing with the money, police said.
He would have the invoices made out to Danville borough or Danville sewer and he was the only employee in charge of the scrap metal and the only employee handling money received from the metal sales.
Mottern admitted taking scrap from the sewer plant Saturdays in a friend’s truck and selling it at a scrap yard. “If it is a crime that I took that metal then I guess I’m guilty of that and I’m sorry,” he told police.
On Feb. 5, Danville Police Sgt. William Wilt III went to Booth and Son and requested a copy of all invoices issued to Mottern and the sewer department. Wilt received 46 transaction sheets showing a total of $20,281 paid for scrap metal. He also received copies of 25 checks made payable and issued to Mottern for $17,714.
On Feb. 8, Bordner interviewed borough secretary Tom Graham, who has since retired, who said it was brought to his attention the junk fund contained more than $6,000. Although the borough had kept small junk funds, Graham said that amount was unacceptable and he would retrieve the money and turn it over to the borough office. He asked Mottern to meet with him Jan. 30 and bring all of the junk money and receipts. Mottern provided him with $30 that Mottern said was the remaining balance of the fund and a hand-written record of items purchased with the money. Graham said Mottern also gave him a few hundred dollars and a receipt from scrap metal cashed in the previous day.
Bordner interviewed Mottern’s wife Gwendolen who said Mottern told her he had $1,000 in scrap metal funds from the sewer department in a safe in their home for safe-keeping during the flood renovation project at the plant because of all the construction workers at the site.
She said he had the $1,000 in their home for three or four days and then returned it to the sewer department. He told her he probably spent $3,000 on food for his co-workers and construction workers at the site.
Bordner interviewed Mottern March 9 with Mottern saying he probably spent $3,000 to $4,000 on food and drinks for the construction workers.
He said he remembered other items he purchased with the scrap metal money. They included forks for a Bobcat valued at $850, a small propane heater and six chairs. He said receipts were no longer in the cigar box at the plant and he didn’t know what happened to them.
When asked if he ever took metal when not working or with his personal vehicle, he said in addition to scrapping metal during working hours as part of his job, he also loaded scrap metal from the plant 12 times while off-duty. He said he would do this on a Saturday with a friend’s truck. He would take scrap home and keep it on a pile until he accumulated a large amount, take it to the scrap yard and keep the money for himself, according to the charges.
On May 24, Sewer Plant Superintendent Jane Graham showed police a copy of the forks showing Mottern had not purchased them, and with the cost listed as $675.