Pittsburgh police investigating theft of $17,000 from records room
A city audit found that the Pittsburgh police records room has about $60,000 in undeposited checks and that about $17,000 was stolen from a cash register, Controller Michael Lamb said Thursday.
“As a city employee, it's the kind of thing that really makes you angry,” Lamb said. “It makes all of us look bad.”
Police said they are investigating the theft from the records room in the Municipal Courts Building, Downtown.
A part-time cashier in the office told a supervisor in November that she took about $15,000 beginning in October 2011, police said. She resigned Nov. 19. Authorities did not release her name because police have not charged her. She could not be reached for comment.
Lamb said it appears $17,000 in cash was taken from the register during an 18-month period. The records room charges $15 for copies of police reports.
“It's additionally troubling that it's police,” Lamb said. “The police are the people that are protecting us from this kind of fraud.”
Lamb said of the $60,000 in checks, about $10,000 worth are stale-dated, meaning they generally are more than 6 months old and can't be deposited.
“For us, it raises a whole other question about cash management throughout the city,” said Lamb, a likely candidate for mayor in the May primary.
Joanna Doven, a spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said “the controller handles all functions related to managing cash transactions.”
Lamb's office had not conducted a fiscal audit of the record room since he became controller in 2008. He said he expects the recommendations in the audit to be finished this month. They will include segregating duties to reduce opportunities for fraud and allowing payment from debit or credit cards, he said.
“Our main objective was to establish what was the theft and what recommendations we can make to avoid that kind of fraud in the future,” Lamb said.
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said robbery detectives are investigating.
“It's going to be several more weeks as all the information is gathered from banks and financial institutions,” Richard said.
The city hired the cashier in 1991 and paid her about $14 an hour, according to city payroll records. She told Lt. Thomas Atkins, who oversees the office, that she tried to replace the money she took, but the situation got out of control, according to a police report. Atkins urged her to resign, the report states.
Mike Manko, spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said the office received the city's audit about 10 days ago and has requested the employee's bank records.
In response to the theft, police no longer accept cash for reports, only checks and money orders, and are buying a register to track transactions.
“We implemented some safeguards to prevent this situation from happening again from that day forward,” Atkins said. “We tried to address the situation as soon as possible.”
He declined further comment.
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Highmark CEO keeps eyes ahead
- Norvelt homesteader skilled at repairs, golf
- Martin’s homer rescues Pirates in 4-2 victory over Brewers
- The truth about the VA: Rank dereliction of duty
- CDC backlog means W.Pa, likely won’t get respiratory virus diagnoses quickly
- FDA revises food safety rules due out next year
- Soup signals end of summer’s bounty
- Sears to close store at Century III Mall in West Mifflin
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- Inside the glass: Johnston’s opening practice grueling
- Orders for Pittsburgh police hats soar with new uniform policy