DOYLESTOWN >> A former Bucks County employee and her boyfriend face multiple felony charges after using letterhead of a county office and the identities of county officials to extort a Bucks County woman over a perceived handyman debt of $157.
Lynn Robin Owens, 63, and Steven D. Wolfe, 67, both of Milford Township, surrendered Wednesday afternoon on counts of unlawful use of a computer, identity theft, forgery, official oppression, attempted theft by extortion and related conspiracy counts.
District Judge Mark D. Douple arraigned the pair by video and released them on unsecured bail set at $25,000.
Owens, who worked in the Bucks County Office of Jury Selection Commission, has been fired as a result of her involvement in the scheme.
According to criminal complaints filed Wednesday, a Mertztown woman received a certified letter July 19 printed on letterhead of the Jury Selection Commission, which bears the names of county President Judge Wallace H. Bateman, county Court Administrator Stephen Heckman and Jury Selection Commissioner Patricia Kloenne.
Signed by Wolfe, the letter requested prompt payment to him of $157.50 for contracting work at her home and threatened “legal remediation” should the amount go unpaid.
When the Mertztown woman called the Jury Selection office to inquire about the letter, a woman identifying herself as “Lynn” answered and said she believed “Steve” had sent her a letter. Lynn terminated the call after the woman asked why the letter had come from the Jury Selection Office.
“That’s all. Bye bye,” Lynn said before ending the call.
Bucks County Detectives investigating the letter found Wolfe had performed some home improvement work in mid-June at the woman’s residence, and the woman was disputing a $157.50 portion of the bill citing dissatisfaction with part of the work. The remainder of the bill had been paid.
Later in the month, Wolfe contacted the woman’s mother via email claiming he had been “shortchanged.” In another email on July 18, Wolfe referenced the certified letter and copied Owens in a follow-up message.
“This has become personal,” Wolfe wrote. “She ripped me off.”
During the investigation, detectives reviewed Owens’ county email backup file and discovered a July 12 message to Wolfe containing the subject line “Rough Draft” that expressed affection for Wolfe and sought his approval to “finalize and print.” A copy of the letter sent to the Mertztown woman was attached to the email.
Interviewed separately by investigators, the defendants said they drafted and sent the letter to the woman and purposely did so on Jury Selection Commission letterhead containing the names of Judge Bateman, Heckman and Kloenne, the complaints say.
Wolfe told detectives he was trying to “send a message” to the woman.
None of the officials named in the letterhead authorized the use of their identifying information for the purposes of recovering $157.50 from the woman.
The case was investigated by Bucks County Detectives and has been assigned for prosecution to Assistant District Attorney Megan K. Stricker.