Cases in the area by the numbers

$2.9M | James S. Bryan

The crime: Bryan, a former Collingdale Borough councilman and candidate for district judge, was charged with stealing $2.9 million from Wescott Electric of Aston from 2003 to 2013. Arrested in January, Bryan was accused of fraudulently cashing company checks and placing bogus orders for copper wire, which he sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He allegedly then spent the money on gambling.

Status: Bryan is expected to enter a guilty plea and is under house arrest with electronic moitoring. The next hearing is July 14.

$1.4M | Guido La Vella

The crime: La Vella, of Gilbertsville, was arrested last October and charged with embezzling more than $1.4 million from his employer, Taylor Gifts Inc. The former chief financial officer was accused of using embezzled funds to live lavishly and pay down his gambling debts.

Status: The next hearing is set for July 7.

$642,741 | Danette M. Lewchick

The crime: Lewchick, of Jamison, was a financial secretary from 2008 until 2012 for the nonprofit Warrington Community Ambulance Corps. She admitted losing that money, plus a half-million dollars of her own, at casinos, including Parx Casino in Bensalem.

Status: Sentenced to two to four years in state prison, followed by 14 years of probation. Ordered to pay restitution of $673,625.14.

$280,000 | Cecilia Sarachilli

The crime: Sarachilli, of Bristol Township, took money from a friend in assisted living who had given her power of attorney over her personal matters. She was charged with forgery, theft, and receiving stolen property. Detectives found that “numerous funds” were withdrawn from ATMs and casinos in Atlantic City and Parx Casino.

Status: Last December, she was sentenced to 10 months in county prison and five years’ probation. Ordered to pay $280,000 in restitution.

$258,789 | James Hess

The crime: Hess, of Sicklerville, was accused of stealing $245,257.54 from St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Washington Township, where he was bookkeeper. He also was charged with falsifying checks in the amount of $13,531 from Family Practice Associates in Washington Township, where he worked. Hess allegedly used the money to gamble.

Status: Hess entered a guilty plea. His sentencing is July 25.

$150,000 | Eleanor Leistrum

The crime: Leistrum, of Bristol Township, was charged last September with stealing a life insurance payout meant for her teenage stepson, Angelo Popovsky. The victim, whose father died when he was 16, should have come into $150,000 when he turned 18. Leistrum told detectives that she lost $100,000 of the insurance money at Parx Casino in six months’ time.

Status: She entered a guilty plea to forgery and theft. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 30.

$149,857 | Kathy McKinlay

The crime: McKinlay, a bookkeeper from Swedesboro, stole $149,857 from Apothaker & Associates. She wrote checks to herself and used the money to gamble in Atlantic City and Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Status: In April 2013, she was sentenced to three years in state prison. Must pay restitution.


$120,000 | Karen L. Horvath

The crime: Horvath, of Yardley Borough, had power of attorney on a cousin’s bank account and pleaded guilty last July to taking $120,000. Her lawyer, Jeff Miller, said she lost “less than $100,000” at Parx Casino. He added that she underwent intensive therapy for gambling addiction.

Status: Sentenced to probation. Agreed to pay restitution. Within 20 days of her sentencing, she was ordered to sell her house and direct the first $100,000 to her cousin’s estate.

$120,000 | Jeanette McMillian

The crime: McMillian, of Philadelphia, cared for a 105-year-old Cheltenham woman. She used a debit card to withdraw funds from the woman’s account to gamble at Parx Casino and SugarHouse Casino. She was charged with theft and entered a guilty plea last October.

Status: Sentenced to nine to 23 months in Montgomery County prison. Paroled last month. Must pay $119,241 in restitution.

$49,000 | Richard B. North

The crime: North, of Atlanta, worked as a campaign consultant to City Councilman Bobby Henon and last January pleaded guilty to stealing from his campaign committee to feed his gambling addiction. He gambled away the money at SugarHouse Casino.

Status: Probation, plus barred from casinos and required to undergo treatment for gambling addiction.

$10,000 | Douglas Hoover

The crime: Hoover, of Newton Township, stole jewelry from the apartments of at least 10 people at the Wood River Village Retirement Community in Bensalem. Last December the former maintenance worker was charged with taking more than 50 items of jewelry and pawning them for cash. Hoover told investigators he needed money to pay off gambling debts at Parx Casino.

Status: Sentenced to nine to 23 months in county prison, plus 24 months of probation. Ordered to attend Gamblers Anonymous and to not have any employment contact with senior citizens. Must pay restitution. 


Note: The Inquirer sought comment directly from the defendants or through their lawyers. The embezzled funds might not have been spent entirely on gambling.

- Jennifer Lin