A former part-time cashier in the Pittsburgh police department's records room surrendered Tuesday on charges that she stole more than $17,000 from the unit over a year.
City officials have said they lost thousands more because she failed to deposit nearly 1,000 checks.
Terri Randolph, 48, of Bon Air was released on unsecured bail after she was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on charges of theft by unlawful taking and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds. She was fired Nov. 19, the same day police now say she confessed to the theft.
Investigators said she tried to repay some of the money, but "things got out of control," according to a criminal complaint.
People go to the records room, located in the Municipal Courts Building, Downtown, to purchase copies of some crime and accident reports. Prior to the theft, they could pay for those reports via cash, check or money order.
Pittsburgh robbery Detective Paul Kirby wrote in the criminal complaint that Ms. Randolph told Lt. Thomas Atkins in November that she needed to speak with him "regarding a terrible thing she had done and needed to clear her mind of." He wrote that Ms. Randolph, a part-time employee since 1991, then confessed to taking about $15,000 from the records room between October 2011 and November 2012, although an audit later placed the amount of missing cash higher -- at $17,140.
Shortly after Ms. Randolph spoke to Lt. Atkins, investigators searched her desk drawers and cupboards and found five envelopes containing $42,216 worth of checks made out to the city, police said. Cash that should have been inside was missing and 967 of the checks, worth a combined $14,581, were too old to deposit, according to the complaint. The complaint did not say how Ms. Randolph -- who was assigned to deposit records room money into the city's general fund at PNC Bank -- managed to alter deposit slips to mask the theft, and investigators did not comment on that.
The records room stopped accepting cash after the department announced the theft last month. City Controller Michael Lamb also conducted an audit of the records room and suggested several improvements, including that multiple employees should share the duties of preparing money for deposit and dropping it off at the bank.
Ms. Randolph, who did not have an attorney on file, was released on $10,000 unsecured bond and has a preliminary hearing scheduled Feb. 14.
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.