HARRISBURG — Three former executives of a Bucks County engineering firm are accused of a $2.1 million fraud scheme during which several municipalities in Montgomery County, including Souderton and Cheltenham, suffered losses, according to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrests on Tuesday of three former company executives from Boucher & James, Inc., for allegedly repeatedly billing municipal and other clients the cost of fictitious time and for covering up their scheme.
Boucher & James provides services in land planning, civil engineering, landscape architecture, surveying, and building code compliance to more than 30 municipalities in northeastern and southeastern Pennsylvania. The firm’s corporate office is located in Doylestown.
“These company executives took advantage of their municipal clients’ trust by routinely overbilling for work that never happened,” Shapiro said. “Let’s be clear about what this means: when you bill for time that you didn’t work, you are stealing — and these former Boucher & James executives will be held accountable for their crimes.”
The alleged theft and cover-up efforts of former owner and board member Ross G. Boucher, of Venice, Fla., and former managing directors Mark W. Eisold, 57, of Hartsville, Pa., and David R. Jones, of Pennlyn, were discovered by another managing director in 2018, according to Shapiro. While reviewing bills, the managing director found that Eisold allegedly had handwritten additional hours into the draft invoices of his client, thereby adding employee work time billed to the client. One employee was recorded as having worked 34 hours in a single day, authorities alleged.
After discovering the discrepancy, the managing director reviewed Eisold’s other billing and found that Eisold was overbilling consistently. The managing director informed his colleagues of the discrepancies and subsequently reported his findings to law enforcement.
Boucher, once the sole proprietor in the company, was on the company’s board of directors until 2018, according to court documents.
Eisold, a licensed professional engineer, was responsible for providing engineering services to the company’s municipal clients served out of the Doylestown office, according to court papers.
Jones also worked out of the Doylestown office and was responsible for business development, according to court papers.
The Office of Attorney General opened an investigation into Boucher & James after receiving a referral from the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office.
A review conducted by the attorney general and a team of forensic accountants revealed that, between 2009 and 2018, the company’s employees allegedly stole approximately $2.1 million from clients. The defendants received bonuses they would otherwise not have received as a result of this theft, authorities alleged.
Between 2009 and 2018, more than 100 entities suffered losses as a result of the alleged theft, authorities said.
According to a summary of losses attached to a criminal complaint, entities in Montgomery County entities suffered the following losses: Springfield Township, $464,083; Souderton Borough, $77,782; Cheltenham Township, $62,572; Montgomery Township, $35,250; North Wales Borough, $10,999; and Jenkintown Borough, $3,673.
Court documents indicate that several current and former employees of the company were interviewed as part of the investigation.
Since the fraud came to light, Boucher & James has reconstituted the board of directors and cooperated fully in the investigation, officials said.
The defendants resigned from their positions and the practice of overbilling ceased.
Earlier this month, the Office of Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with Boucher & James. Under the agreement, the company repaid more than $851,000 in overbilled funds to clients dating back to Jan. 1, 2015. In light of these facts, the company will not be charged, authorities said. The company admitted no wrongdoing.
Boucher, Eisold, and Jones have all been charged with theft by deception, theft by receiving stolen property, deceptive business practices, corrupt organizations and conspiracy.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirsten Heine is prosecuting the case.
The investigation was conducted by Special Agents Joseph Daniels and Wendell Buck. Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Adrian Shchuka and Asset Forfeiture Section and Forensic Accountants Monique Ericson and Kori Bogard assisted with the investigation and settlement.