Two Baltimore County government employees have each been charged with two counts of theft after they were accused of stealing copper wires from county work sites and selling the material for cash, according to court documents obtained by Patch.
Steven Todd Ellick, 39, of the 7900 block of St. Monica Drive, Dundalk, whose job title is Carpenter II, was served a summons Aug. 17 and faces two charges of theft less than $1,000. A trial date has been set for Oct. 3.
Phillip Lee Schlothauer, 52, of the 2400 block of Ellis, Parkville, whose job title is also Carpenter II, was arrested and charged Aug. 5 with two counts of theft less than $1,000. A trial date has been set for Oct. 11.
According to charging documents, a Motorola contractor visited the Red Run radio tower antenna site at Lathe Road in Owings Mills on July 25 and noticed a white, Baltimore County pick-up truck upon his 9 a.m. arrival. The Motorola contractor allegedly observed a man standing on the roof of the shelter and another standing at a pile of used copper waveguide, separating the metal from its outer sheath of insulation.
The contractor, upon greeting the county employees, commented that he thought there was an open bid out from Baltimore County for a private company to collect and recycle such copper waveguide. He assumed he’d been wrong and that the two men had been assigned the job, according to charging documents.
After several minutes, the two employees allegedly loaded the copper and sheath into the cargo area of the truck and left the location.
A few days later, according to police, the Motorola contractor mentioned the encounter during a casual conversation at Baltimore County’s electronic shop. He learned that there was still an active bid for copper recycling and no county employees had been granted permission to remove copper waveguide from any Baltimore County radio tower antenna sites.
Baltimore County police detectives interviewed John Uematsu, deputy chief of Electronic Services, and discovered that the same type of copper waveguide had been taken from the Arcadia radio tower antenna site on Carnival Avenue in Upperco.
According to charging documents, Ellick and Schlothauer are the only two roofers employed directly by Baltimore County building services, working as partners each day and in the same vehicle, and both have the only keys to the radio tower antenna sites. Also, according to charging documents, no work orders for roof maintenance were scheduled in July for either radio tower antenna site.
Police say scrap metal records at Maryland Recycle in Owings Mills showed that Schlothauer, using his Maryland driver license as identification, later sold 51 pounds of copper and received $163.20. And, according to police, scrap metal records at Maryland Recycle in Owings Mills showed that Ellick, using his Maryland driver license as identification, later sold 60 pounds of copper and received $192.
The vehicle registration number of the truck assigned to Schlothauer and Ellick also matches the number recorded by Maryland Recycle, police allege.
Ellick has worked for the county since 1994, and Schlothauer since 2004.
Both men have been suspended without pay until the outcome of the criminal proceedings, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said Thursday afternoon. She said that no action against other county employees have been taken related to the copper thefts.
“This is a big issue with the county,” Kobler said, adding that copper and scrap metal on county property remains county property. “There are strict controls in place. We run a tight ship and this type of behavior won’t be tolerated."
According to estimates provided by Baltimore County Electronic Services, part of the Office of Information Technology, approximately 164 pounds of copper waveguide in total was stolen from the Red Run radio tower antenna site, with as estimated value of $524.80. Another 75 pounds of copper waveguide in total was stolen from the Arcadia radio tower antenna site, with an estimated value of $240.