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Another example of greed

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BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Parents of a 7-year-old boy admitted scamming neighbors of nearly $700 by dressing their son in a Cub Scout uniform and going door-to-door seeking donations for a nonexistent pack.


Anthony M. Herman, 46, and Sally Ann Gombocz, 45, of Bethlehem knocked on more than 150 doors between January 7 and January 18, collecting $667 as their son silently smiled, police said.


At the couple's arraignment Wednesday, Herman said they perpetrated the scam because the family landscaping business was failing.


"What we've done here was a desperation act," Herman told the judge. "I'm not trying to minimize what I did. It was stupid, very stupid."


Bethlehem police arrested the couple after receiving tips from neighbors. Both were charged with theft by deception, corruption of minors, criminal conspiracy and related offenses.


The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. No plea was entered and a preliminary hearing was set for January 31.


The boy is not a Cub Scout, though his parents convinced him he was when he put on the uniform, police said. He remains in the custody of his parents, who were released on $5,000 bail each, authorities said.


"That's awful ... using the child like that," said Sharon DeAngelis, who donated $5 Friday. "The little boy had a smile on his face. He didn't talk, though."


The couple told donors they were raising money for a camping trip for Cub Scout Pack 351, which does not exist, police said. Herman and Gombocz acknowledged spending the money, authorities said.


Michael Stempo, who has two sons who are Eagle Scouts, became suspicious when his wife said the boy's neckerchief was knotted -- not held together with a Scout slide. Stempo also said Boy Scouts do not solicit for money door-to-door, though they sometimes sell popcorn or other items.



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