PITTSBURGH - Acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Regina McDonald denied accusations from the head of the police union that she should have known about alleged malfeasance involving secret bank accounts.
McDonald, in a statement, said it was “untrue” that FOP representatives had asked her about the accounts as early as 2006, when she became assistant chief of administration. Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 president Michael LaPorte made the accusation on Friday.
The dispute centers on McDonald's knowledge of bank accounts funded with the department's Cost Recovery Fee, which businesses pay to have off-duty officers provide private security. Former Chief Nate Harper faces federal charges that he misused about $70,000 in city money by moving it to accounts at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union.
LaPorte said administrators have been dodging FOP questions about how much money the department collected in fees from businesses.
“I don't recall him ever asking me about the overtime account, which is the account the premium pay for officers working secondary employment and paid through the city was deposited,” McDonald said in a written statement. The statement said it was in response to “baseless allegations levied against her by Sgt. Mike LaPorte.”
“If he wanted to know how much money was brought in monthly/yearly from the Cost Recovery Fee, we could have provided that information to him. He never asked,” McDonald said. “If he wanted to know the total breakdown of the overtime account, he should have contacted the Finance Department.”
McDonald said City Council is considering legislation to make the accounts more transparent. “The accountability for these funds was not my responsibility. It was the responsibility of the Finance Office and the Controller's Office, of which I had no oversight,” McDonald said. LaPorte said McDonald was asked directly about the accounts during a labor-management committee meeting in October, but dismissed the questions.
Despite the criticism from LaPorte, and that of other officers who have expressed unhappiness at McDonald's appointment to replace Harper after he was ousted Feb. 20, McDonald denied there was an uneasy relationship between her and the rank and file.
“The only uneasy relationship appears to be on Sgt. LaPorte's part,” McDonald said. “Since the day that I was appointed, he has made it clear that he did not support my selection as acting chief.”
This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.