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Pittsburgh watchdog authority board settles with ex-executive director for $48K

| Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, 6:27 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Henry Sciortino was the executive director of the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board of directors Tuesday agreed to pay $48,000 to its former executive director, who was terminated in May and is the target of an Allegheny County District Attorney's Office investigation.

Henry Sciortino, 67, of West Chester agreed, in exchange, to seek no further claims or file a lawsuit against the ICA.

Sciortino signed the agreement Oct. 17. Three of the five members of the board voted to approve it. Michael Danovitz and Nicholas Varischetti were absent.

ICA Executive Director Reynolds Clark and board Chairwoman B.J. Leber declined to comment. They distributed copies of the agreement but would not respond to questions about reasons for the payment, calling it a “personnel matter” and saying the document speaks for itself.

According to the paperwork, the payment was a “compromise and final settlement of disputed claims.” It also noted that neither party had filed a lawsuit seeking damages.

Sciortino's Downtown attorney, Charles Lamberton, declined to comment.

Sciortino led the ICA from its onset in 2004 when state legislators created it to help Pittsburgh avoid bankruptcy. The authority had a rocky relationship with city administrations during Sciortino's tenure that culminated in a lawsuit filed by Mayor Bill Peduto's office in 2015 to force release of nearly $20 million in state gambling tax revenue that the ICA had withheld from the city.

Kevin Acklin, Peduto's chief of staff, said the administration has formed a good working relationship with the new ICA board and respects the decision to settle with Sciortino.

“Our sole concern was that any settlement not interfere with any criminal or other investigations underway relating to Mr. Sciortino's alleged mismanagement of the ICA,” Acklin said. “We trust that any such settlement does not preclude the public's right to have a full and complete accounting of any misconduct.”

The ICA board in April terminated Sciortino's month-to-month contract following an investigative series by the Tribune-Review that uncovered financial mismanagement and shoddy record-keeping under Sciortino's watch. Sciortino continued to make his $12,000 monthly salary until May 31.

The Trib found that 92 percent of all ICA spending receipts between 2010 and 2016 were missing and that Sciortino failed to tell ICA board members that he sought personal federal bankruptcy protection between 2010 and 2011. Philadelphia Common Pleas Court filings accused him of attempting to hide thousands of dollars from creditors in sham companies.

State and federal agencies began investigating Sciortino following the Trib's reports. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s office Monday confirmed that investigators continue to look into Sciortino's activities.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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