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School district employee waives right to preliminary hearing

Published October 13. 2011 05:01PM

A Palmerton Area School District employee accused of theft and receiving stolen property will have his case heard in Carbon County Court.

Todd Mertz, 54, of Lehighton, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday before District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton.

A district groundskeeper in the PASD, Mertz faced two counts each of theft of unlawful taking or disposition, and receiving stolen property.

One count each of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, and receiving stolen property were dismissed. Mertz still faces one count each of both charges.

He is scheduled to go before the county Court of Common Pleas for a pretrial status conference at 9 a.m. Nov. 29.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper H. Christopher Bonin of the Pennsylvania State Police:

On Aug. 6, Bonin received information that Mertz had been stealing numerous items from the school district in the performance of his duties, according to the affidavit.

Sometime between 2006-2007, the Towamensing Elementary School had been undergoing renovations that were being completed by Bracy Contracting Incorporated; part of which entailed installing new floor tile, pink in color, the affidavit says.

Mertz was later seen installing that tile in a motor home owned by his father-in-law by another employee of the school district.

On July 27, Trooper Nicolas De La Iglesia traveled to Towamensing Elementary to view the tile that had already been installed. De La Iglesia then traveled to the residence of Mertz's father-in-law in Towamensing Township.

De La Iglesia received consent to search the motor home, and observed the floor tile inside to be the same type, size, and color of the tile that he viewed inside Towamensing Elementary.

The motor home contained 14 partial tiles and 15 full tiles. The motor home was a 1993 Chevrolet C30 built by Gulfstream with a PA Registration of HHO-4681.

In addition, Mertz was also questioned by officials at the Palmerton Area School District for stealing a space heater and five gallons of diesel fuel for the heater on July 21.

Mertz admitted to taking the heater sometime in January. On July 22, Mertz returned the heater and five gallons of diesel fuel to the school district.

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