Pa. law officials to explore Monroeville infractions

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Top officials with the state attorney general's office will travel next week to Monroeville to discuss "infractions" of Pennsylvania's Criminal History Records Information Act that were detected in an audit.

Lawrence M. Cherba, executive deputy attorney general, and David Peifer, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Special Investigations, plan to meet Thursday with the mayor, council and municipal manager.

Bruce E. Dice, Monroeville's solicitor, referred to "alleged infractions" and said he did not understand why the attorney general's office wanted to include council in the meeting.

"I don't know if they even investigated anything yet," Mr. Dice said Thursday.

Mayor Gregory Erosenko said he spoke briefly to Mr. Cherba to reschedule their meeting from Wednesday to next week because the solicitor and several council members were not available.

"He gave no indication" of what the infractions were, Mr. Erosenko said. The mayor added that he did not know of any criminal history data violations.

Monroeville remains under federal investigation for allegations that it breached privacy law with unauthorized releases of information from ambulance calls.

That investigation is ongoing, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Thursday. It stemmed from a complaint filed by police Chief Steven Pascarella in August 2012, when he was assistant chief.

The latest situation involves the handling of data collected by Monroeville police that is protected by state law, such as individuals' arrest history, description, charges and disposition of cases.

Chief Pascarella said the probe into possible problems with Monroeville's protection of criminal history records information began with an audit by the attorney general's office.

"There was an initial audit that turned into an investigation," said Chief Pascarella, who has been out of the office on extended sick leave. He added that the investigators also had "some concerns based on some letters and complaints ..."

Separately, Monroeville Councilwoman Lois Drumheller sent a letter dated Sept. 17 to Attorney General Kathleen Kane alerting her to "information that was shared from our police department computers to unauthorized individuals."

The letter was prompted by information Ms. Drumheller said she received in March from Chief Pascarella during an executive session of council.

Chief Pascarella said he was unaware of the councilwoman's letter.

While not typical, the meeting sought by two top attorney general's officials is not unprecedented.

"Whether it is a visit or a letter, it is not unusual that we interface with officials across the state given our responsibility to audit compliance with the CHRIA statute," said Joseph C. Peters, Ms. Kane's spokesman.

"Our effort is always to work cooperatively to point out what may be infractions so that corrective action can be taken, and that's what is happening or has happened in this case."

Given Monroeville's cooperation, Mr. Peters said he did not anticipate any sanctions -- criminal, civil or administrative.

"If there is corrective action and these infractions are perceived to be unintentional, then there would be no need for sanctions," Mr. Peters said.

Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg.


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