2 Port Vue public works employees suspended for allegedly stealing scrap funds
Two Port Vue public works employees are suspended with pay as they await a union hearing and criminal proceedings after allegedly stealing funds from scrap metal.
Timothy Wilson, 59, and Robert A. Pastore, 54, are charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and conspiracy. Authorities allege the men have been scrapping borough property and keeping the proceeds for themselves for an extended period of time.
In February, Port Vue police Chief Bryan Myers responded to residents' complaints that Wilson and Pastore were rummaging through curbside garbage on local collection days, specifically Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“People were asking me why these guys weren't out packing streets and they were out picking through garbage,” Myers said. “During my routine patrols, I could see them going through garbage and scrapping.”
Borough council members, including street department chairwoman Pamela Myers and president Mark Tortorice, reportedly told Wilson and Pastore to stop scrapping on borough time. Later, borough officials discovered the suspects were allegedly taking materials from a borough recycling bin, where aluminum and tin cans were collected to raise funds for recreation programs. A borough grate also was scrapped.
“These guys have been taking not only what they found at the curbs, but they were taking cans from our recycling trailer,” Myers said. “Most of the time, they would not turn the receipts in.”
The borough's policy for all returns on recyclables is that any scrapping of borough property should bring payment and a receipt to be logged by accounting staff, borough manager Joan Winters confirmed to police. Borough officials said Wilson and Pastore were not authorized to keep funds from any recyclables they turned in to the Casturo Iron and Metal Scrap Yard in McKeesport.
Criminal complaints filed against both suspects indicate that they took home between $40 and $100 each month on scrapped materials, taken to Casturo's in approximately 30 trips throughout the year. They estimated taking home $300-$400, and claimed to be surprised when police said the loot brought them more than $5,000.
The suspects told police the money was to go to their “coffee fund,” unless the borough specified a different purpose for funds from a particular job, and they admitted to spending it, according to court documents.
“They did this on working hours with a borough truck,” Myers said. “The taxpayers of Port Vue were paying them to go make money on scrap.”
In June, the matter was referred to Allegheny County police for investigation. County detectives arrested Wilson on Wednesday and Pastore on Thursday.
“The investigation was turned over to the county police because there was a conflict of interest,” Myers explained. “It would have been our department investigating another borough department.”
While borough officials, aside from Chief Myers, didn't speak of the issue at length as they await a union hearing planned for July 8, they said they are disappointed that anyone could steal funds that help to provide recreational activities such as Fun To Be A Kid Day for borough youth.
“It's a shame,” Mayor Brien Hranics said. “They have well-paying jobs, and they were told to cease what they were doing. Obviously they didn't, and we had to take it to the next level.”
Wilson and Pastore are scheduled for preliminary hearings before Magisterial District Judge Armand Martin on July 15.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.