Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough was arrested and arraigned today on nearly two dozen counts following an investigation last year of his handling of an elderly widow's trust funds.
A county grand jury today handed up a 52-page presentment that alleges Mr. McCullough, an attorney, and his sister, Kathleen A. McCullough, bilked money from the $14.5 million trust fund of an Upper St. Clair widow, Shirley H. Jordan, 90.
The investigation began after an article appeared in the Post-Gazette in April 2007 in which Mrs. Jordan denied that she donated $10,000 to each of four political candidates the year before, according to an affidavit that accompanied the arrests of Mr. McCullough and his sister.
The affidavit said Kathleen McCullough had been paid "the exorbitant rate of $60 per hour to be a companion" to Mrs. Jordan. Ms. McCullough was paid more than $4,500 as Mrs. Jordan's companion, the affidavit said.
This afternoon, the attorney representing Mr. McCullough said that he was "surprised and very disappointed," by the criminal charges.
Following the publication of the Post-Gazette stories, said Attorney Clifford Levine, Allegheny County Orphan's Court required Mr. McCullough and Northwest Savings Bank, which oversaw Ms. Jordan's trust, to provide a thorough accounting of expenditures. That was done in May 2007, and in August 2008, the court signed off on it, Mr. Levine said.
"We thought that matter had been put to rest, and we could move past that."
Mr. Levine is frustrated that his client didn't have an opportunity to refute the allegations, saying that a grand-jury proceeding is one-sided.
As for the $40,000 in political donations Mrs. Jordan claimed not to have made, Mr. Levine said: "There are explanations for a number of matters, and we'll present those at the appropriate time."
Bond for Mr. McCullough and his sister was set at $20,000 each, and a hearing is set for Feb. 27.