Easton, Northampton County - Prosecutors say greed got the best of two Lackawanna County businessmen who are on trial this week for theft.
P.J. McLaine and Robert Kearns are accused of pocketing money from a township in Northampton County and writing themselves huge six-figure bonus checks.
Both McLaine and Kearns ran a company called MEM, Municipal Energy Managers. It was based in Lackawanna County but has since filed for bankruptcy.
The company had previously had contract with communities all across northeastern and central Pennsylvania, from Carbondale to Tamaqua, Scranton to Stroudsburg.
Robert Kearns was the last witness to testify for the defense. He said he did nothing wrong. He fought back against allegations that he stole taxpayer money from Bethlehem Township in Northampton County.
Kearns and McLaine were hired in 2007 to buy the township's streetlights from PPL and maintain but prosecutors say that never happened.
District attorney John Morganelli says the businessmen pocketed the money and wrote themselves bonus checks without doing any work just weeks after they got the township's money.
Two years after the contract was signed, when PPL contacted the company, the district attorney says the two men had no money because greed had gotten the best of them. He says their ponzi-like scheme had collapsed.
In court, Morganelli said, "I don't care if they kept that money in their kids piggy bank, when the time came to pay PPL, they had to do it."
McLaine is no stranger to headlines.
He testified in the corruption trial of former Lackawanna County commissioner Bob Cordaro. He admitted to paying Cordaro $10,000 a month in bribes for another company he was involved in.
Defense attorneys maintain their clients did nothing criminal in this case. They believe this dispute belongs in civil court.
Defense attorneys placed blame on PPL who got its lawyers involved in the sales process and stalled it. They point to MEM having a number of other communities who were happy with their service.
Defense attorney Paul Walker questioned the jury in his closing argument, saying, "charges are about intent not negligence. Was there an intent to commit a crime?"
Closing arguments wrapped up around 4:00 PM and the jury told the judge they wanted to begin deliberations on Friday morning instead of working through the night.
If convicted on all counts, both businessmen face up to 16 years in prison.