Lieutenant accused of pilfering SCI Pittsburgh fund

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A lieutenant with the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh embezzled more than $12,000 meant for the prison's honor guard, according to court documents filed Monday.

A fraud examiner with the State Department of Corrections obtained a warrant Monday to charge Joseph Ober, 44, of West View with theft, access device fraud and unlawful use of a computer.

The examiner wrote in a criminal complaint that Lt. Ober and another correctional officer opened an account at Huntington Bank for the honor guard and each received a debit card tied to it.

The account was created to hold money brought in through honor guard fundraisers, which sometimes included the sale of SCI Pittsburgh clothing, challenge coins and other collectibles. In some cases, the fraud examiner wrote, Lt. Ober deposited money meant for the honor guard directly into his personal accounts. In others, he used an ATM to withdraw money or used a computer to transfer money from the honor guard account into his personal account. A criminal complaint places the total amount of misappropriated money at $12,771.85.

Bank statements show the money was sometimes used for airline tickets and at gas stations, according to the complaint.

Lt. Ober said he was suspended about two weeks ago, but he declined further comment. He referred questions to his attorney, who is on vacation and did not respond to messages.

Online court records show that Lt. Ober and his wife went through bankruptcy proceedings in 1999. Fraud examiner Daniel Meinert wrote in the complaint that personal accounts kept by Lt. Ober and his wife "were frequently overdrawn," in some cases accruing hundreds of dollars in late fees.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections declined comment.

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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