John Holden, president, charged with bribery, extortion
Yeadon Borough Council President John Holden was arrested on Wednesday August 8 under accusations of extortion and bribery stemming from a dispute with the borough’s contracted towing service. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for later this month.
Holden, 46, was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Steven Sandone and released on $50,000 unsecured bail. Holden’s legal troubles started when an abandoned car he owned was towed by Seiple’s Collision. Holden allegedly contacted Thomas Seiple, the service’s owner, and allegedly implied that because of complaints that towing in the borough was racially motivated, the company’s contract with the borough could be in jeopardy. When asked how he could make the complaints “go away” Holden allegedly replied, “You know what has to be done, but I can’t say it,” implying a bribe.
Here’s how it went down, according to court documents released to the Philadelphia Tribune.
On August 3, Thomas Seiple, owner of Seiple’s Collision spoke to Detective Robert Lythgoe regarding a phone call from Holden regarding a vehicle he owned that was tagged abandoned by the borough’s code enforcement officer. Holden allegedly told Seiple that the car wasn’t to be towed. The enforcement officer followed up with Seiple with the documents to have the vehicle removed from where it was parked on Cypress Street. Seiple told the detective that he informed the official about Holden’s phone call and was not given the paperwork.
According to the affidavit, a few weeks later the paperwork was handed over to Seiple and the car was towed but was never claimed by Holden or anyone else, and is still impounded at Seiple’s Collision. At an earlier council meeting in July, acquiring a new towing service was discussed and Holden allegedly said he personally had a problem with Seiple’s Collision. Seiple later spoke to a Yeadon police officer regarding Holden, asking if the problem was the fact that his car was towed and how the issue could be resolved.
Through a series of phone calls that eventually led to a meeting on Thursday, August 2, Holden and Seiple met outside the school yard at the intersection of Baily Road and Church Lane. Seiple asked about the complaints, and Holden allegedly replied they were racial complaints — but couldn’t provide any specific details.
“Thomas Seiple then asked Holden what it would take to make this problem go away, and that if it’s the car that he towed, Holden could have the car back,” the affidavit said. “Holden responds, ‘It’s not about the car, I can get a car from anybody.’ Holden then stated to Seiple, ‘You know what has to be done, but I can’t say it.’”
At an August 7 meeting that was monitored by the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, Holden allegedly wrote on a piece of paper the number “7.” Seiple said, “Seven thousand dollars?” and Holden allegedly responded, “That’s not what I’m saying.” Seiple offered to make a partial payment to keep the contract, and Holden replied they should do it now but not at the location where they were. The next day, Holden allegedly took an offered $1,000 from Seiple. When he was arrested, Holden was in possession of a fully loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun.
An attempt to speak with Holden through a legal representative by Tribune press time was not successful.