On Friday, I told you a highly ranking Bethlehem City official was recently fired after discovery of financial irregularities. I declined to name the person, preferring to wait until a criminal investigation was complete. WFMZ-TV69 and The Morning Call subsequently followed up with their own stories, naming the person in question.
He's Mark Sivak, who happens to be Bethlehem's Budget Director. He's been employed by Bethlehem for the past 15 years. Prior to that, he worked for the City of Allentown and in the private sector as an accountant. He's a 2000 graduate of King's College, where he majored in accounting. I considered him one of Bethlehem's best employees and was shocked to learn what had happened.
So far as I know, his embezzlement scheme was two-pronged.
The first aspect of it involves an abuse of the City's Paypal account, which it uses as a petty cash fund to make purchases. I am informed by a forensic auditor that it's inadvisable for municipal government to use Paypal for small purchases because the records fail to show instantaneously the way they would with a credit card, making abuse more difficult to track.
The second aspect involves cell phones and other electronic devices issued to city employees. They periodically are eligible for upgrades. Sivak was allegedly getting the upgrades and selling them.
Sivak's theft was caught by City Controller George Yasso, an independently elected official. He maintains a hotline for tips by both employees and City residents at 610-865-7266.
I am unsure how long Sivak had been dipping into the cookie jar or how much money is involved. Those details will emerge when charges are filed.