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Former Monessen city treasurer accused of stealing parking revenue

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By Rick Bruni
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 2:18 p.m.

Former Monessen city Treasurer Frank “Bucky” Rizzuto Sr. was charged with nine criminal counts Thursday morning, including three felony counts of tampering with public information, for allegedly pocketing $478.20 in parking revenue.

Rizzuto, 72, was arraigned before District Judge Joseph A. Dalfonso and released on his own recognizance.

The other charges, filed through the Westmoreland County District Attorney's office, are theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, and three counts of tampering with records or ID writing.

When asked Thursday afternoon if he still maintains his innocence, Rizzuto replied: “I have no comment at this time.”

Rizzuto's attorney, Jack Bergstein of Monessen, said he had suspected charges would be filed but wasn't aware of the specifics until Thursday. He declined further comment.

Rizzuto was in his 26th year as treasurer of the third-class city when he resigned in August after allegations that his parking revenue bank deposits did not match the initial counts by office clerks.

District Attorney John Peck said “there was an admission” by Rizzuto after detectives found a third discrepancy between the city's original count of parking meter money and the treasurer's bank deposits.

Led by Detective Tom Horan, investigators had found two previous discrepancies before performing the third count themselves.

Monessen Mayor Mary Jo Smith initially became alarmed when Rizzuto's final count was rounded off to an even dollar amount while office clerks always had change remaining on theirs.

“I'm thankful that our employees did what was right for the citizens of Monessen and were willing to step up to the plate,” Smith said after the arraignment. “It's not good for the community; it's a black eye. The rumors circulating around that he was ‘set up' are not true. The facts are there.

“I don't like doing this,” she said. “I wish I didn't have to. But I took an oath of office, and that included a fiduciary responsibility that the funds collected are used for the city and not anyone's personal account.”

On Sept. 20, Monessen city council approved then-councilman Gerald Saksun to fill out Rizzuto's term, which expires Dec. 31, 2013.

Rizzuto's preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Oct. 19 in front of Dalfonso.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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