Decision Day in Penn-Delco
On that day, plastered all over the front of this newspaper, was confirmation of something that had been whispered about in the Penn-Delco School District for months.
There was something seriously wrong in the district, and it pointed directly at some of those in charge.
The story detailed an investigation by the county District Attorney’s Office into the school district’s relationship with an outfit called Quick Start Preschools LLC. The company, which was very popular with residents, had been brought into the district to run child-care programs.
Greasing the path for Quick Start’s arrival in the district was one of its biggest proponents, school board President Keith Crego. And no wonder. As we now know, Crego was a secret owner. And he wasn’t alone. He managed to convince Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn to get on board as well.
It was the start of months of headlines, accusations and discord that rocked the troubled school district to its foundation.
Everyone was waiting for the same thing. When would we hear from the district attorney, and what would he say?
Yesterday we found out.
The hammer came down, and it fell squarely on Crego and Abrutyn.
Crego had been at the center of the firestorm in the district for months, reaching a head when a board member, with whom he was having a relationship and who he was instrumental in getting on the board, filed a protection from abuse order against him. He did likewise against her. Eventually, Crego was forced to step down.
There has been a virtual merry-go-round of members coming and going from the Penn-Delco School Board. They all seemed to have one focal point: Keith Crego.
The Quick Start program was no different. Crego was instrumental in ushering it into the district when the contract with the Rocky Run YMCA, which had run the program for years, expired.
What some suspected, but nobody actually knew, is what was laid out by investigators yesterday. There was more to the relationship between Crego and Quick Start than met the eye.
A lot more. Thousands of dollars more.
The district attorney alleges Crego was actually a "secret" investor in Quick Start, that he set up the company, got them into the district, and then lined his pockets with money paid to the firm along the way.
While the firm is named as an entity in yesterday’s charges, none of the individuals tied to it other than Crego are.
But Leslye Abrutyn is. The respected former superintendent, for whom a new wing of a district school was once named, is alleged to have kicked in $10,000 in cash, which she turned over to Crego in a school parking lot and which was used as part of the startup money.
The charges make pretty clear that Crego was leaning fairly hard on Abrutyn, intimidating her into turning over the cash. And tossing her career down the drain in the process.
You have to wonder just what it was that would make Abrutyn go along with such a scheme. She’s also charged with tampering with evidence, giving false information and falsifying her statements of financial interest.
Crego faces 21 felony offenses and 11 misdemeanors. Today he sits behind bars at Delaware County Prison. In still one more bizarre twist, Crego faces a slew of drug charges, including possession of steroids and a form of the drug Ecstasy.
Abrutyn faces one felony charge, and a number of misdemeanors. She was released on her own recognizance.
In their wake, they have left a school district that continues to offer kids a very good education, even as its leadership is in shambles.
It took eight months – more if you consider when the county probe actually started -- for all the twists and turns in this case to boil down to this.
If you believe the charges, Keith Crego saw a way to make some easy money and went for it.
The guy must be one helluva salesman. Because he took in a lot of people along the way.
He also betrayed the people who put him in office, the taxpayers of the Penn-Delco School District.
Now it’s time to pick up the pieces. Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long.