FBI seizes documents from Pittsburgh police headquarters
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents leave Pittsburgh Police Headquarters on the North Side with cases full of documents today.
Share with others:
The FBI today seized documents from the special events office in Pittsburgh police headquarters on the North Side.
Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said five or six FBI agents arrived at headquarters on Western Avenue this afternoon with subpoenas. He said the agents looked at records kept in the Personnel and Finance and Special Events office and requested documents pertaining to training and travel, among others.
Personnel and Finance handles payroll, and Secondary Employment coordinates many overtime details.
Deputy Chief Donaldson said he did not believe the agents went inside Chief Nate Harper's office.
He said he did not think there was anything illegal going on inside the bureau but he thought the bureau's reputation could benefit from having an outside agency take a look.
He said there are several allegations being floated about the bureau and he hopes this will be "the beginning of the end -- an outside agency comes in and looks at our workings."
"Obviously, the bureau does not want to be the focus of the investigation," he said, "but I think the bureau is open to the investigation."
The Special Events office handles scheduling for officers who moonlight and money paid by those employers.
Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, did not have any information immediately available.
Kelly Kochamba, a local FBI spokeswoman, had no comment and referred questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Margaret Philbin, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office, declined comment.
The seizure comes days after city Controller Michael Lamb announced an audit of the Special Events office.
He said Saturday that his office was looking at how the police handles money paid by private entities for security services provided by off-duty officers.
City Solicitor Dan Regan said, "It certainly was not a raid or a seizure."
Mr. Regan said the law department on Monday received a subpoena seeking records from police bureau headquarters.
Following discussions Monday and today, he said, city and federal officials agreed to meet at police headquarters today to locate and remove the records. He said police bureau personnel helped to find the records that the FBI agents wanted.
Because the subpoena was related to a grand jury investigation, Mr. Regan said, he did not believe it would be appropriate to discuss the contents, including the types of records the authorities were seeking.
Mr. Regan said he did not know who or what the federal grand jury is investigating or know which offices at police headquarters housed the records that the agents wanted.
"You couldn't tell from the subpoena" which offices at headquarters housed the records, and that's one reason that city officials offered their cooperation, he said.
Mr. Regan said the subpoena sought records only at the one location--police headquarters.
He said no other subpoenas related to the grand jury investigation are pending.
Mr. Lamb said his staff notified the bureau Friday that it would be sending fiscal auditors to review the process by which the money is handled and to check the flow of money over a period of time, probably two years.
"We're looking at the funds that come in as a result of secondary employment detail work and how those funds are handled," Mr. Lamb said.
Off-duty officers are in demand to work security at bars, banks, road construction sites, sports events and other functions.
Years ago, bureau employees managed their own side jobs. Since 2007, the bureau has administered the jobs, billing private entities for officers' time and paying the officers time-and-a-half -- a little more than $40 an hour -- and adding a $3.85-an-hour fee that the bureau keeps to cover expenses.
"And that's one of the questions we have: How is that fee accounted for?" said Mr. Lamb. The money should stay in the bureau's premium pay account, probably to cover unexpected overtime, he said.
Mr. Lamb said there had been recent interest in the secondary employment process, and his auditors have been reviewing various bureau functions. The office recently released an audit of the use of money forfeited by defendants in drug cases.
"We've done a couple of other audits over there, and this is just really one of the issues we've wanted to do," Mr. Lamb said.
First Published February 12, 2013 4:10 pm