U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan says former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy will not be indicted for a "clandestine" 2001 election-eve contract arbitration agreement with the city's firefighters.
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Excerpts from an interview with U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan:
An outline of the agreement reached with the former mayor
Why the decision was made not to charge Mr. Murphy
The contract process is flawed, legislation is needed to address the problem
Reporter Dennis B. Roddy provides background and an explanation of the U.S. Attorney's decision:
Federal prosecutors today said they would not indict former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy over accusations that he traded a generous contract with the city's firefighters in return for their endorsement.
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said in a prepared statement that the agreement "acknowledges the facts surrounding the City's 2001 contract with the Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Local No. 1 and the benefits Mr. Murphy reaped from his actions, and requires the former Mayor to take certain actions to help ensure that future contracts are not awarded in a clandestine fashion."
"If Mr. Murphy performs all of the actions required by the agreement within one year and cooperates fully in all debriefings, provides evidence, and testifies before any Court or City oversight entity, the federal investigation will be closed and no federal charges will be brought against him."
Among terms of the agreement:
Mr. Murphy agreed to be debriefed by the U.S. Attorney's office and special agents.
He agreed to provide full, complete, accurate and truthful information and evidence within his knowledge or control concerning the investigation.
He promised to provide all documents and physical evidence within his possession concerning the investigation.
He also agreed "to testify in proceedings in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Murphy will also, when requested, provide information and testimony to the Pittsburgh City Council, the Act 47 Board, and any state or local court regarding the events of 2001 related to the contract negotiations with the Firefighters Union."
Mr. Murphy's lawyer, David Hickton, characterized the deal as "a non-prosecution agreement" that shifted the discussion of the 2001 contract to "a matter of policy, rather than a matter of criminal law."
He said the mayor would be working with Ms. Buchanan primarily on reforming state Act 111, which governs the binding arbitration which applies to police and firefighters contracts. He said they might talk to state officials about ideas like preventing contract negotiations during election season, or giving city councils some say over what kinds of contract provisions are agreed to between the parties before arbitration starts.
The unusual agreement follows a two-year joint investigation by the FBI and the Allegheny County District Attorney's office. The investigation was sparked when Mr. Murphy announced the need for cutbacks when the city slipped into insolvency three years ago. Joseph King, president of the firefighters union, issued a public letter saying the mayor had reneged on an agreement to settle with the firefighters in return for their support in a close Democrat primary race.
While announcing the new contract, the union also switched its support from Mr. Murphy's challenger in the 2001 primary, then City Council President Bob O'Connor, to Mr. Murphy.
Mr. Murphy did not seek re-election after serving for three terms, and Mr. O'Connor was elected and became mayor in January.