Twanda Carlisle's pension frozen; she must turn over fur coat

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A judge today froze the salary and pension account of Twanda Carlisle, the city councilwoman set to go on trial, and ordered her to turn over a fur coat valued at over $4,000.

Ms. Carlisle is charged with taking kickbacks. Her trial, set to start today, was postponed, but the prosecution sought a temporary restraining order, saying that the restitution it expected Ms. Carlisle to be ordered to pay would be more than $10,000 and that her assets should be secured.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge John Zottola ordered that Ms. Carlisle be denied access to her city pension account, including her contributions to that account; have her city salary suspended for the duration of her term in office; and be required to turn in a fur coat valued at more than $4,000 that the prosecution says was purchased with stolen city money.

Ms. Carlisle faces a 17-count corruption charge involving city checks totaling $101,480 to her alleged co-conspirators. The councilwoman then deposited smaller amounts in her bank accounts, over time shifting $38,310 to her personal account, and $4,850 to her campaign account, according to the Allegheny County investigating grand jury.

The charges against her include theft by deception, criminal conspiracy, failure to file financial disclosures and violations of the state Ethics Act and Election Code.

One of her alleged co-conspirators, Darlene Durham, pleaded guilty to transferring $19,480 in city money to the embattled official.

Ms. Durham faced felony charges of theft by deception and conspiracy, as do co-conspirators Sheryl Pinson-Smith and Lee Otto Johnson, who have pleaded not guilty. Ms. Pinson-Smith still works in the councilwoman's office.

Ms. Carlisle had no comment as she left court this morning.


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