Allegheny County Treasurer's employee pilfered woman's estate for $100K, police say
An Allegheny County Treasurer's Office employee accused of stealing $100,000 from the estate of an 84-year-old woman who died in 2014 and spending the money on rent, an SUV and strip clubs was suspended from his job without pay Friday.
Murray Goppman, 62, of Monroeville is charged with misappropriating funds while serving as the executor of an estate, according to a criminal complaint.
Goppman's son, reached by phone Friday, said his father was not available to comment.
An investigation started late last year when officials from Orphan's Court in Allegheny County requested that the Allegheny County District Attorney's office look into the handling of the estate of Hena Jules of Wilkins, who died in June 2014.
In her will, Hena Jules left her entire estate to her sister, the complaint said.
Hena Jules was Goppman's aunt, said Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.
“The investigation revealed that more than $100,000 that was designated to go to the sole beneficiary of the estate was missing from the accounts connected to the estate,” authorities said.
The complaint says Goppman used the money to purchase a 2008 Ford Expedition, withdrew thousands of dollars in cash and made “85 withdrawals and point of sale transactions” that added up to $28,190 at two strip clubs: The Penthouse Club on the North Side and at Club Controversy on the South Side.
It's not clear how Goppman took control of the estate, but authorities noted that Goppman spoke to the estate's previous executor and agreed to take it over. Family members of Hena Jules told police they had no knowledge of the withdrawals.
Goppman was arraigned Friday morning on two counts of theft and two counts of misapplication of entrusted property, and was released on his own recognizance.
The charges related to a private matter that didn't have anything to do with Goppman's duties with the county, said Michael McCabe, an attorney at law firm Goehring, Rutter & Boehm who serves as solicitor for the Treasurer's Office.
“Goppman was an administrator of an estate. The issue that he's been charged with relates to that. It has nothing to do with his public employment. This is a private thing altogether,” McCabe said.
No taxpayer funds are involved, McCabe said.
Goppman has been a county employee since 1991.
Goppman's unpaid suspension will last indefinitely, McCabe said.
As of last year, his title was “special real estate coordinator” and his salary was $43,405.
A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 26.