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Shuman Juvenile Detention Center inquiry alleges payroll, hiring discrepancies

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An investigation by the Allegheny County manager of Shuman Juvenile Detention Center found numerous payroll discrepancies, allegations of favoritism among staff and management, and problems with internal security investigations.

The 10-page report by County Manager William McKain dated March 8 did not mention Shuman Director William “Jack” Simmons by name, but listed deficiencies at the center and asked the Controller's Office to audit the payroll system as well as a special fund that solicits cash and donations for residents.

“I thought there was enough there that an independent review should be done. There were numerous discrepancies and inaccuracies,” McKain said.

Simmons declined to comment on Monday.

According to the report, McKain reviewed schedule sheets and payroll records. “The sample appeared to reflect numerous discrepancies in which employees did not clock into the time system yet received a full pay without any documentation to justify time paid,” the report states. “Various employees also have concerns over (the) ... ‘Shuman Center Resident Fund,' which solicits cash and nonmonetary donations for the residents. Some employees do not have confidence that the donations are properly utilized.”

Brad Korinski, chief legal counsel for Controller Chelsa Wagner, confirmed that the office is in the midst of an audit involving payroll records and the resident fund.

“In my opinion, (Shuman workers) have morphed themselves into a separate island and are doing whatever they want to do. There seems to be a culture there that kind of has me raising an eyebrow,” said County Councilman Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville, chairman of the public safety committee. “I think (McKain's) on the right track. He thinks something's not right and I have to concur.”

County police will now oversee the Shuman building guards and will perform all investigations. The building guards had reported to the Shuman director and deputy director, a process that “compromised” security investigations of incidents, according to the report.

Among other findings:

• The average daily population at Shuman decreased nearly 43 percent over the past five years but there was no decrease in budget or staff.

• Shuman's hiring practices did not follow county human resources' normal involvement. Shuman hired all part- time employees without human resources review and then selected who was promoted to full time. Human resources will be involved in all hiring at Shuman.

• Lack of trust between staff and management resulted in low morale and inefficient operations.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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