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June 23, 2021

Former Philadelphia Water Department employee allegedly stole, scrapped $164,000 in materials

Prosecutors say Thomas Staszak gained unauthorized access to the department's inventory system

Investigations Theft
Philly Water Department Theft Street View/Google

Thomas Staszak, a former storeroom supervisor for the Philadelphia Water Department, allegedly sold stolen materials at scrap yards in Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Federal prosecutors have filed theft charges against a former employee of the Philadelphia Water Department who is accused of stealing maintenance materials and selling them at local scrap yards.

Thomas Staszak, 46, of Philadelphia, was charged Tuesday in connection to the alleged scheme that took place between April 2017 and November 2018, prosecutors said.

According to investigators, Staszak accessed the water department's inventory control system without authorization by using login credentials associated with employees under his supervision at a PWD storeroom in Southwest Philadelphia.

The federal grand jury indictment alleges Staszek used the login information of at least six of his subordinates to make electronic requests for materials such as bulk wire, cable and neoprene conductors. He allegedly falsified records to show that the employees received the materials and either falsified or omitted paper slips used to document inventory at the storeroom.

When Staszak took possession of the stolen materials, he allegedly brought them to scrap yards in Philadelphia and New Jersey, where he sold them and kept the proceeds for himself.

During 2017, Staszak allegedly stole and sold at least $63,860 worth of water department materials. The following year, he allegedly stole and sold at least $100,017 worth of materials. In total, investigators said he stole in excess of $164,000 of water department property.

Staszak was charged Tuesday with multiple counts of theft from a federally funded program, since the Philadelphia Water Department receives more than $10,000 annually in federal funds and assistance. Staszak also faces federal computer fraud charges.

"As alleged, Thomas Staszak used his public position to enrich himself to the detriment of all Philadelphians who expect and deserve honest services from city employees," said Acting U.S. Attorney Jenniefer Arbittier Williams. "The Philadelphia Water Department is charged with providing clean, safe water for millions of residents and businesses, and protecting the region’s water resources, all on a limited budget. The defendant’s alleged actions took money and resources directly out of the hands of taxpayers and into his own pocket."

If convicted, Staszak faces a maximum possible sentence of 65 years imprisonment and $2,750,000 in fines.