BLOOMSBURG — A Montour County man, who told police he collects welfare and sells scrap metal to get by, allegedly took metal and copper wiring from a Bloomsburg fire scene.

Todd A. Cornell, 40, of 105 Evergreen Pointe in Mahoning Township, told police he got wire from the West Main Street fire buildings and that he had permission from the owner of Towne Camera. He did not know the owner’s name, however.

He admitted to taking various amounts of scrap and metal from several counties. He also admitted to taking wire found in the back of his truck from a burned building on West Main Street, according to the charges filed by patrolman Charles Balon.

Cornell was apprehended Nov. 17 by Balon after the patrolman found him and two other men sitting in a parked truck near the fire scene.

Balon was patrolling Market Street when he saw the dark-colored Dodge pickup truck in the rear parking area of the Social Security building. As he passed it, the lights on the vehicle went out. He saw three men in the cab. The driver, identified as Cornell, complained he had stomach pains but refused an ambulance. Cornell told Balon he was stopped with the lights off so he could get out and stretch to alleviate stomach cramps.

The officer said he realized who Cornell was because Mahoning Township police had told Bloomsburg police Nov. 8 that Cornell was leaving late at night and returning with pickup truck loads of scrap metal and wire stolen from buildings at the fire scene. Mahoning Township police provided the name of a witness who allegedly said Cornell had been sleeping in the parking lot of an Elysburg area recycling operation in an attempt to avoid police detection.

Cornell told police he got the wire in the truck from his parents’ neighbor in Bloomsburg, a washing machine in the truck bed from a man driving a white Ford pickup truck and a railroad spike from along tracks between Railroad Street and the Social Security building. An urn in the truck came from a recent auction, he told police.

Adam Lehmier, a passenger in Cornell’s truck, told Bloomsburg police nothing was wrong with Cornell’s stomach. Lehmier allegedly said he knew he had to tell the truth “and come clean with what Cornell was doing tonight and for the last few months.”

After further questioning, Cornell told police he receives $200 a month from welfare, is trying to receive disability and that taking and selling scrap helps him get by. He admitted to taking 800 pounds of railroad spikes from the Catawissa Township side of the East Bloomsburg Bridge. He told police he also took spikes from behind the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.

Cornell told police he stole spokes, rain gutters from the fire scene, storm grates and road signs in the past, according to court documents.

Police charged him with theft and receiving stolen property for taking copper tubing, copper wire, wire and other scrap from the fire scene Nov. 17. He will receive a summons from the office of Bloomsburg District Judge Russell Lawton.

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