Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said this morning there are "hundreds if not thousands of expenditures" on accounts associated with the police bureau and maintained at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union.
"I know we're talking about two, three, four, five of them now," the mayor said regarding the number of accounts under review. "We want to do a thorough analysis and find out where the money was spent, was it appropriately spent, who used it, who had debit cards, and really get all those questions answered."
The Post-Gazette has learned that some of the money in those accounts was used to pay Giant Eagle expenses, airline fees, hotel rooms and restaurant bills in numerous cities.
The mayor gave what appeared to be a tacit confirmation that at least one of the accounts was used to pay for condos for him, public safety director Michael Huss and police Chief Nate Harper during the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009.
"Why that account was used, I don't know," the mayor said. "All I know is that I stayed there for two nights and stayed there because there were threats of protest on my house, the public safety director's house, the chief's house and we wanted to make sure that we could get out of our homes and be here for the events."
Mr. Ravenstahl urged people to be cautious before jumping to conclusions.
"Just because somebody spent money on a hotel room doesn't mean they weren't there doing city business, and just because money was spent on the G-20 doesn't mean that it wasn't supposed to be spent from that account," he said.
He said state and federal money reimbursed the city for its G-20-related expenses, including the condos.
The mayor made his comments after an event in Market Square this morning.
FBI and IRS agents armed with subpoenas gathered documents from the credit union in the city's Elliott neighborhood over the course of several days last week. FBI agents also gathered reams of documents from two offices in the police bureau's North Side headquarters -- the personnel and finance office and the special events office, which coordinates officers' moonlighting on security details.
A source familiar with the investigation said the two document seizures were connected. While federal investigators have not commented publicly on the probe, Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson told the Post-Gazette last week that he thought the agents were investigating allegations that money might have been misappropriated internally at the police bureau.
The mayor said, "There are, of course, concerns about the account ...There may be more accounts than any of us even know about and that's what we're trying to figure out."
Mr. Ravenstahl said the city has some receipts from at least one of the accounts, but he did not specify the name of the account, which he said has been closed.
The mayor said city officials are trying to confirm who accessed the accounts, what receipts exist and, if any receipts are missing, why they are missing. He said he has not seen any evidence that documents might have been destroyed or gone missing.
He said he was not sure whether city money had been deposited into the federal credit union accounts.
The Post-Gazette has learned that a Sept. 16, 2009 University of Pittsburgh check for $5,675.52 to the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police -- meant to pay for work performed by off-duty police officers -- was deposited into the "I.P.F." account at the credit union on Sept. 28, 2009. The account lists its address as 1203 Western Ave. -- the North Side headquarters of the police bureau.
On the same day that check was deposited, $4,000 was withdrawn from the account.
The withdrawal slip appears to be signed by a police bureau employee. Reached Monday night by phone, the employee declined to comment.
Another account is listed as belonging to "Special Events c/o Sandy Ganster," according to documents obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ms. Ganster is the manager of the police bureau's office of personnel and finance.
City Controller Michael Lamb, who is running for mayor, has said there are 15 approved depositories for funds paid to the city, and the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union is not one of them.
Mr. Lamb has said, "If there were monies diverted to a non-approved depository of the city I'd have to think, well, I don't know what you would characterize that other than as a theft."
Mr. Ravenstahl said he thought that it was premature to talk about theft.
"I have at least at this point seen no evidence of theft," Mr. Ravenstahl said. "That's a big word and that's a pretty big accusation and I haven't found it."
He noted that at least one of the accounts dates back as early as 2004, before he became mayor and before police Chief Nate Harper moved into his current position.
Former police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr., who was chief of the Pittsburgh bureau during that time, said he did not know of such an account being opened.
Mr. Ravenstahl said he continues to stand by Chief Harper, who has been under intense scrutiny over the past few months for his involvement in a side business involving his subordinates, an FBI seizure of records from police headquarters and other incidents.
"I think it's premature to be the judge and the jury," he said, reiterating statements he made last week, saying he still wants more information."