Jury to decide whether woman stole from 2 firms

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An Allegheny County jury found a Collier woman guilty of stealing more than $1.3 million from two separate employers over a period of several years this afternoon.

Kathleen A. McCullough, 47, was charged with taking $1.2 million from Mackin Engineering where she worked as the company's controller, and later from the Radiance Surgery Center in Upper St. Clair where she worked as office manager.

The jury in the case before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos deliberated less than three hours before returning the verdict: guilty on all counts. Ms. McCullough will be sentenced on Aug. 27. She could face a sentence of as much as three to six years in prison.

Defense attorney James DePasquale told the jurors in closing arguments today that in neither instance did his client do anything wrong.

Instead, with Mackin, Ms. McCullough was given permission to take the money by the company's vice president, Jerome Schwertz, with whom she was having an affair.

"He wanted something -- to have a relationship with Kate McCullough," Mr. DePasquale said.

In the other counts, Ms. McCullough is charged with embezzling $148,000 from Radiance Surgery Center, where she began working in 2006.

However, Mr. DePasquale said that money wasn't taken. Rather, it was paid to his client as part of an unwritten contract with her employer.

But Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus told the jury that made no sense.

"Have you ever heard someone get a job paying $120,000 without a contract or some proof?" he asked.

Ms. McCullough also faces separate charges, along with her brother, attorney and Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough, for allegedly defrauding an elderly Upper St. Clair widow.

That case is scheduled to go to trial in October.

Paula Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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