Former Cecil police Chief Pushak's cash from casino ATMs probed
An investigation into a former Cecil police chief's possible misuse of public funds shows he withdrew money from a federally funded account under his control at two Western Pennsylvania casinos, according to unsealed court documents.
John Pushak, 64, resigned in April after working for nearly four decades for the Washington County municipality. Neither he nor Cecil officials could be reached for comment on Tuesday. State police opened an investigation in May at the request of District Attorney Gene Vittone.
“I have not received any information back,” Vittone said on Tuesday.
Charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.
“The case is still open,” said Trooper David Bayer of the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Organized Crime Task Force.
A search warrant obtained in August and unsealed last week shows that Cecil officials in February found money from a township account connected to the Department of Justice's asset forfeiture program was withdrawn repeatedly from ATMs in The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in South Strabane and Rivers Casino on the North Shore.
A debit card for the account was used 15 to 18 times between August and December at the casinos. Most transactions were between $400 and $500, according to an affidavit.
Some deposits were made back into the account, but it was unknown where the money came from because Pushak deposited money from police officers' off-duty work details, the investigation revealed.
When questioned by township officials, Pushak said he took money out to pay for undercover drug buys. He said he deposited work detail money to buy department equipment.
Both statements raised red flags because township and police department officials told investigators that the department makes few controlled drug purchases and township funds pay for equipment.
In a meeting with township officials, Pushak turned over an evidence bag that contained $5,430 he said came from overtime payments, which he had put in the federal account.
Township supervisors hired an attorney to investigate and an accounting firm to audit the federal account. They put Pushak on administrative leave.
The internal investigation revealed that all but $3,000 had been returned to the account. Pushak wrote a check for $3,000 and resigned effective April 1, the affidavit stated.
He joined the Cecil police department in 1974.
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936.
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.
- Allenport home of killer riddled by bullets
- Daughter: Allenport woman shot to death by estranged husband feared him
- Shots fired into Allenport home
- Washington Co. district attorney suspends deputy prosecutor