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Collingdale man charged with $2.9 million theft

Today Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced the arrest of James Samuel Bryan, 45, of the 800 block of Spruce Street in Collingdale, who is charged with stealing nearly $3 million from his former employer, Wescott Electric of Aston. Bryan, who worked as a project manager at the time of the theft, allegedly stole from his employer over the past 11 years to support his alleged gambling addiction.

The arrest is the conclusion of an investigation conducted by CID Detective Michele Deery of the Economic Crimes Unit and Aston Township Police Detective Joseph Nardone. The investigation began in June 2013 after a complaint was received by detectives from Wescott Electric about a possible theft by one of their employees.

On July 30, 2013, the owner of Wescott Electric, Jim Wescott and Vice President Joe McColgan met with detectives at Aston Township Police Department regarding a theft after Wescott’s purchasing agent, Theresa Davidson, discovered a fraudulent invoice for copper wire that was never used or needed. Davidson told management that she had been receiving similar invoices for an extended period of time, all without a purchasing order, which were submitted by project manager James Samuel Bryan. The missing copper wire led to further internal investigation by Wescott, uncovering fraudulent business transactions and checks made out to businesses for projects that did not exist.  Additionally, false invoices had been created for Christa Supply (C&C Supply), a business owned by Bryan and his ex-wife.  When confronted by Wescott and McColgan about the fraudulent activity, Bryan admitted to the theft which he blamed on his gambling addiction.

According to Bryan, he started gambling approximately five-six years ago, which is around when the thefts began. He told detectives that he started the theft by writing fraudulent invoices for jobs that did not exist. He would collect the checks for the invoices from the outgoing mail, and cash the checks. More recently, he began creating fraudulent purchasing orders for bare copper wire, which he would pick up himself and scrap for cash. He did this at least once a week, making $1,000-$2,000 each trip. 

In total, records show Bryan stole a total of $2,919,361.50 from Wescott Electric over a period of 11 years from years 2003-2013. His bank statements showed numerous transactions at Harrah’s Casino in Chester.

James S. Bryan faces multiple charges of theft, all felonies of the third degree, and 10 counts of forgery, a felony of the second degree. 

“The defendant knowingly and fraudulently stole from his employer, depositing hundreds of thousands of dollars into his personal accounts. He took advantage of his position of authority and employer’s trust, and he will be held accountable for his actions,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “Our Economic Crime Unit is dedicated to guarding local businesses against fraud and thoroughly investigating all matters of theft. I want to commend Detectives Michele Deery and Joe Nardone for their exemplary work on this complicated case which took a great amount of time and effort.”

The Delaware County District Attorney’s Economic Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Division investigates Financial Crimes including Corporate Embezzlement, Identity Theft, Forgery, Bank Fraud, Contractor Fraud, Internet Fraud and Insurance Fraud.

 

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From left: CID Detective Michele Deery of the Economic Crimes Unit, Assistant District Attorney Brian Doherty, CID Chief Joseph Ryan, DA Jack Whelan, and Aston Township Police Detective Joseph Nardone