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Penn Hills

Board president tired of waiting for arrests in Penn Hills school district investigation

Michael DiVittorio
| Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, 9:57 a.m.
The main entrance at Penn Hills High School.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
The main entrance at Penn Hills High School.

Frustration is setting in for Penn Hills school board President Erin Vecchio concerning an ongoing criminal investigation of the district.

The Allegheny County district attorney has been investigating financial records of the district for nearly two years.

“I wish they would come and arrest somebody soon, because we keep hearing that it's going to come,” Vecchio said at a school board meeting this week. “The time is now. It needs to come.”

District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.'s office launched its investigation in response to the May 2016 release of an audit by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, which alleged that mismanagement of funds, bad decisions and lack of oversight put the district more than $170 million in debt.

The debt is largely due to high school and elementary construction projects. Penn Hills also borrowed $18 million in October 2015 to fund day-to-day operations.

“The taxpayers of Penn Hills deserve an answer,” Vecchio said after the meeting. “It's going on two years and we have no answers yet.”

The 74-page audit covered July 2012 through June 2015, before Vecchio was on the board.

“I know who caused these problems and I want these people arrested,” Vecchio said after the meeting. “I don't want to start throwing names out there and get myself in trouble, but I've been testifying since 2007 against political people in Penn Hills. When is the time they're going to arrest these people?”

Vecchio said the district plans to seek financial retribution from those responsible once the investigation is concluded and charges are filed.

Zappala spokesman Mike Manko has repeatedly declined to discuss the investigation before its completion.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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