A former Lancaster village trustee has been accused of making up a burglary at his video game shop on Central Avenue and then filing a fraudulent insurance claim.
But Edward M. Marki is adamant that he is innocent and insists the charges police filed against him late last week are unfounded and says there’s a lot more to the story.
“This has been just ridiculous. The police are trying to defame my name and my character,” said Marki, also a former teacher at area Catholic middle schools.
Marki – who served on the Village Board until last March when he narrowly lost a re-election bid – faces a felony charge of insurance fraud and a misdemeanor count of third-degree falsely reporting an incident. He is accused of reporting that a burglary occurred at his store last Sept. 25 and then reporting the alleged break-in to his insurance company, claiming a loss of more than $2,000 worth of video game systems and accessories.
Lancaster police are saying very little about the case.
Police Chief Gerald J. Gill Jr. refused to give out any reports about the incident or Marki’s arrest report without The News first filing a Freedom of Information Request.
Marki, 44, a lifelong Lancaster resident, said he is furious with the Police Department, insisting his arrest stems from political motivations because he lost his re-election bid for village trustee in last year’s elections and that there are behind-the-scenes police connections to the issue.
Gill did not return phone calls Thursday. Marki’s attorney, former town attorney Richard J. Sherwood, also refused to comment, said a secretary who answered his office phone.
“It’s outrageous that police are charging me,” Marki said in a phone interview from his shop. “I’m innocent, an exemplary student, Eagle Scout, a teacher ... It’s very upsetting to me.
“I’m going to manufacture a burglary?” Marki said, his voice laced with sarcasm. “My windows and counter were broken. I don’t know what they’re thinking. Why they would arrest me on a charge is beyond me. Why wouldn’t they arrest me last fall? I’ve been working with them [the police] hand in hand, since the burglaries.”
Marki said his store was burglarized on three occasions, starting in late September and that he contacted town police the next morning. Police investigated, he said, and Marki said he later contacted his insurance company. He also put a camera on the store window after the first break-in, he said. A second burglary occurred roughly two days later, he said.
In both incidents, burglars took mostly used items such as iPods, PlayStation 3 gaming systems, Xbox 360 and gaming controllers.
Marki said his landlord sealed the windows with wood after the two break-ins. The third burglary occurred around Oct. 1 after someone entered through a stained-glass window in the bathroom, he said. It was the third incident that was the worst, including the theft of two laptops, one of which was used to film at night to catch any would-be thieves.
“They didn’t just steal. They destroyed the store,” Marki said, forcing him to close the business for one week. “By the third one, I was mad.”
He said that last Friday, police came to his house and told him they had recovered one of his computers and asked him to come to the police station. He was subsequently fingerprinted and charged. “I told the police it was a false arrest,” he said.