An Easton police officer who resigned this week amid allegations that he did not turn in a lost wallet entrusted to him was charged Friday with stealing $375 from it, and court records show he had financial trouble.
James E. Marcum Jr., who joined Easton police in 2007, surrendered to authorities and was charged with misdemeanor theft for allegedly taking cash from the wallet, which police said he later threw in the trash.
After a brief hearing Friday morning before senior District Judge Ralph Litzenberger, Marcum was released on $5,000 unsecured bail.
The investigation into the alleged theft from the lost wallet, which Easton police said happened near the end of Marcum’s patrol shift Sept. 2, rocked a department already reeling after two officers were involved in a drunken fight outside a hotel in the Poconos.
Edward Gibson, the wallet owner, said the allegation that a police officer stole his money has left him with mixed emotions.
“I feel mad, I feel bad that he lost his job; I’m just all over the place,” Gibson said. “If you can’t trust a police officer, who can you trust?”
Gibson said on Sept. 2 he realized his wallet was missing after a trip the day before to buy cigarettes.
That morning, a West Ward woman found the wallet on Washington Street. Inside was Gibson’s license with his previous address in New Jersey and $375 in cash.
When she returned home from work that afternoon, she flagged down a passing Easton police officer in a marked cruiser. She asked the officer — identified by authorities as Marcum — if he could save her a trip to the station and gave him the wallet.
Because it was Labor Day weekend, Gibson said, he waited until Sept. 6 to file a report with police. He spent a few frantic days searching his apartment and car to find his wallet.
A few days later, the woman told Gibson all was well. She had found his wallet and turned it over to police.
But when Gibson and the woman repeatedly checked with police, they were told the wallet was never turned in and wasn’t in their evidence room.
That prompted an investigation.
Earlier this week, Gibson said he got a call from an Easton police captain who told him his wallet had been found, but the story had a twist. They told him they believed one of their officers had stolen it.
“I was so relieved to hear it had been found, and then they tell me an officer took it?” Gibson said. “I was speechless and in shock.”
Gibson said he was told that he would be paid back for his stolen cash, but he’s still waiting.
Gibson got other bad news this week. As he was working to replace his Social Security card, he learned from the government that someone had been using his identity since 2002.
Gibson, a machinist who’s been out of work since March, admits feeling frustrated and battered over the lost wallet and stolen identity — but not beaten.
“I’m stunned, but I’m hoping something good comes out of this,” he said.