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FBI collects subpoenaed records from Cheswick borough office

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 2:33 p.m.
Brian C. Rittmeyer
Cheswick Borough building.

FBI agents collected about 30 boxes of documents and records from Cheswick's borough office Monday morning, the day before the borough's deadline to produce them in response to a federal grand jury subpoena.

Authorities have not commented on the purpose of the request for borough records, but it came after council approved taking out a $350,000 loan to be used toward paying the borough's missed contributions to its police and non-uniform pension funds.

The state Auditor General faulted the borough for not making required contributions in 2014 and 2015, and borough officials said they had not been made for 2016.

Borough officials determined they owed about $505,000 toward the funds, including interest.

Margaret Philbin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office, said the office is not permitted to comment on or answer any questions about the subpoena.

Council President Paul Jack announced at a June 20 council meeting that the borough had received the subpoena that day. He said authorities were conducting a forensic audit of the borough.

The subpoena asked for nearly a dozen things, including records of council meetings, bank and accounting records, purchases, utility billing and payments, payroll, pension contracts and agreements, taxes and payments to council members.

The borough was given the option of satisfying the subpoena by having Jack appear to testify Tuesday morning, or producing the documents instead.

Jack could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Borough Secretary Andy Bock said two FBI agents arrived in a van around 10 a.m. Monday, and were gone about 10 minutes later.

“They said they'd have it for a while,” he said of the documents that were handed over.

Bock and another borough office employee had worked for nearly a month collecting the requested financial records and documents from the borough building basement.

Except for a few “oddball things” they couldn't find that might still be in the basement, Bock said they handed over 98 to 99 percent of what authorities asked for.

“I think we did pretty good,” he said.

Some of the information was contained on thumb drives, Bock said.

Borough officials had contemplated asking for an extension to the deadline, but Bock said that will not be necessary.

Council's regular monthly caucus meeting for July, to have been held last Wednesday, was cancelled because the meeting room was full of boxes and documents as the borough worked to satisfy the subpoena.

Council is expected to hold its regular voting meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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