The Bucks County District Attorney's office and the , in addition to Solebury police, are investigating whether candy canisters marketed with the images of missing children are in violation of state statutes overseeing charitable solicitations, according to the Bucks County district attorney’s office.
Assistant District Attorney Ryan Hyde told PhillyBurbs that investigators were looking into if the sales of candy from canisters left in various stores around the county were in fact in violation of the Pennsylvania Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act. While the canisters do note that they are not a charity, a large photo and biographical information about a missing person is prominent on the packaging.
According to PhillyBurbs, defense attorney Douglas C. Maloney said he does not believe that criminal charges apply. Maloney's client, Ed Hilem, of Lower Southampton, bought the canisters from Advanced Business Concepts, a South Carolina company that Maloney said advertises work-at-home opportunities in newspapers. Hilem, a retired salesman, inquired about the company, Maloney said. He spoke with another person whom he believes was also taking advantage of the “opportunity.”
Maloney said Hilem eventually purchased 30 canisters for roughly $5,000. Someone from the company then placed the canisters in area stores, Maloney said. He said as far as he and his client know the images are of actual missing persons.
Store owners told police that the man that placed the canisters in their stores said that the proceeds went to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but the agency told investigators that they don't raise funds through soliciting with candy canisters.
According to PhillyBurbs, Hilem’s contact information was on the back of the canisters and he had to restock the canisters with candy when they ran out. Maloney said that so far his client has lost slightly less than $5,000 on the deal.
When Hilem learned of the investigation, Maloney said to PhillyBurbs, he removed the canisters from the stores. Police said they did take some evidence before they were all removed.
Lieutenant Ted Krimmel told Patch that he did not release this information to PhillyBurbs, but that it is still an active investigation. and that there "is a good chance somebody is getting arrested." Arrest information will be available on Lower Southampton Patch sometime next week.