EAST BRANDYWINE — When it came to his dealings with Pat’s King of Steaks — the iconic South Philly cheesesteak stand — Joseph R. Shafer apparently liked his without. That is, without turning over money that the management at Pat’s had paid him for acting as a food broker to his employer, an international wholesale meat supplier based in Canada, according to township police.
Shafer, 40, of Cumberland Drive, was arrested last week and charged with theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, forgery and receiving stolen property. Police allege he pocketed more than $87,000 in payments from Pat’s that was supposed to have gone to Wilkinson Foods International for meat the cheesesteak maker purchased in August.
After an arraignment on the charges last Tuesday, Shafer was taken to Chester County prison in lieu of $250,000 bail. It could not be determined whether he had made bail this past weekend. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 2 before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Valocchi of Caln.
According to an arrest affidavit, East Brandywine Police Lt. Gene Babetski was contacted in early September by Don Read, an agent for Wilkinson based in Florida. Read explained that payments he expected to receive from Pat’s Steaks in August had not been made by Shafer, who he uses as a broker to supply Pat’s and other buyers along the East Coast.
Read said he had asked Shafer about a missed payment of $29,000, and that Shafer had told him he sent the check via Federal Express. But Read told Babetski that when he received the FedEx envelope from Shafer, it was empty. The agent said he had also missed other payments totaling $87,603 from the Pat’s account.
He contacted Frankie Oliveri of Pat’s and spoke with him about the missed payments. Oliveri told Read that he had written three checks made payable to Shafer International and not Wilkinson Foods because Shafer had told him there had been complaints about late payments over the summer.
According to the criminal complaint, Shafer told Oliveri that instead of sending the payments to Wilkinson by FedEx, he could simply write a check to Shafer and that he would wire the payment to Wilkinson from his company account. Oliveri agreed. When Oliveri produced copies of the checks for Babetski when he was interviewed, he noticed that one of the checks he had made payable to Wilkinson had been altered to read Shafer International.
With a search warrant, Babetski then examined Shafer’s bank records at Bryn Mawr Trust and found that the account for Shafer International, although it had a variety of transactions from July through September, never had enough money to cover the amount of the checks that Pat’s Steaks had written to cover its expenses with Wilkinson.
Babetski said Shafer intentionally diverted the funds from Pat’s to Wilkinson for his own purposes.