D.A.: Bookkeeper busted for pinching $696,631

A DELAWARE COUNTY bookkeeper got so comfortable stealing from his employer that he made 257 unauthorized ATM withdrawals totaling $122,184 from May 2011 to this January - and that wasn't even half of what he allegedly stole.

In all, Jeffrey McElwee, 53, of Essington, stole $696,631.69 from Power Source Repair in Collingdale dating back to when he was hired in 2002, said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan.

McElwee was arrested Aug. 27 and remained in Delaware County Prison yesterday having failed to post $10,000 bail. He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Sept. 8 on multiple felony theft charges and related felony counts.

"From the very start of his employment, the defendant knowingly and fraudulently stole from his employer, depositing hundreds of thousands of dollars into his personal accounts," Whelan said in a statement released yesterday.

"He took advantage of his employer's trust, and he will be held accountable for his actions," the D.A. added.

McElwee's motive, according to detectives who made the bust, was to afford his gambling habit at local casinos, said Emily Harris, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

Although McElwee's alleged theft is "on the high end," she said, it's not unusual for bookkeepers to rip off employers . . . because they're the ones who are "closest to the money."

Power Source Repair, a welding services company, has been in business 23 years serving the tri-state area, according to its website.

A company representative who answered the phone yesterday said owner John Jenzano did not care to comment on McElwee's arrest.

Police were tipped off about the burglar bookkeeper on Feb. 25, when Jenzano and the company's accountant, Jeffrey Mitchell, reported that company funds had been stolen by McElwee, according to the D.A.'s office.

Investigators obtained a warrant to search McElwee's TD Bank and Santander bank accounts and discovered that he had been issuing unauthorized checks to himself since 2002, totaling $574.447.19.

Bank statements from Jenzano's Wells Fargo line of credit account revealed that McElwee withdrew $122,184.50 from ATMs from 2011 to 2015, with close to half of the withdrawals made at the same PNC Bank ATM at an Essington Wawa located near the defendant's home, the D.A.'s Office said.

On Twitter: @MensahDean