Controller Wagner announced today that her office uncovered misuse of Allegheny County taxpayer funds in the course of her ongoing audit of County-owned vehicles. Records indicate that Richard Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, used his County-issued car improperly, contrary to explicit policy, which dictates that all employees are strictly prohibited from using County-owned vehicles for personal purposes. Wagner confirmed that she sent a letter to Fitzgerald today, directing him to stop using the vehicle improperly, and to provide accurate documentation so that the Controller’s office may calculate the total amount that Fitzgerald must repay the County.
“These findings are deeply troubling. As the fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers of Allegheny County, it is my obligation under State law to immediately report the wrongdoing and recover these funds,” Wagner said.
Wagner also further confirmed that she sent a letter on October 24 to law enforcement agencies along with evidence detailing Fitzgerald’s misuse on at least 100 occasions. That letter also detailed Fitzgerald’s falsification of County records and claiming such travel as a County official business purpose as well as his failure to report 19,556 miles of use. Examples of misuse include: travel to Greene and Westmoreland Counties to campaign for candidates, trips within Allegheny County for campaigning purposes, and travel to and from the airport to attend the Democratic National Convention. The Controller revealed that Fitzgerald has been charging County taxpayers for all of his use of the vehicle and has never provided any reimbursement to the County.
Fitzgerald’s own campaign Twitter account indicates dates, times and locations of his political activities. Fitzgerald’s misuse is estimated to have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, potentially $13,125 or more. However, Controller Wagner is awaiting the receipt of Fitzgerald’s detailed usage report, which the Controller’s office requested within one week, to determine the precise dollar amount that he must repay the County.
Wagner’s audit of County-owned vehicles began on August 28, 2014 and covers a period from January 1, 2012 to the present. The audit is ongoing. Wagner cited her specific duties under State law to immediately report misuse of County funds and to immediately seek to recover such funds once misuse is discovered. Allegheny County has 151 employees with take-home vehicles, however most of those employees, 120, are police officers and sheriffs. For all employees with a take-home vehicle, the County covers the cost of the employee’s commute to and from work each day, but strictly prohibits employees from using County vehicles for purposes other than commuting or business.
View the Controller's presentation here: http://youtu.be/e0ntg8UzLH4
View the Controller's full report and documentation below.