DA: West Penn Allegheny Health System exec stole $713K for gambling

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A fired executive of western Pennsylvania's second-largest hospital network has been arrested on charges he stole $713,000 to feed his gambling habit.

Ira Johnson, 52, of Penn Hills, was taken into custody Monday and is awaiting arraignment on charges he stole the money from West Penn Allegheny Health System from 2006 until he was fired in November 2011.

Johnson was manager of patient financial services and later manager of revenue/cash receipts when he allegedly deposited health system checks into two accounts that appeared to belong to medical practices.

Allegheny County investigators said that in reality, Johnson was withdrawing the money at casinos in Pittsburgh and Erie and in Illinois, New Jersey and West Virginia.

In the six months before he was fired, Johnson allegedly withdrew $83,000 in 110 automatic teller transactions at casinos.

Johnson is facing charges of theft, receiving stolen property and misappropriation of property, officials said.

The following statement was released today by the West Penn Allegheny Health System related to the arrest of Johnson: "This arrest relates to an individual manager who is no longer employed by WPAHS, but who, for a period of time, had responsibility for handling certain cash payments made to the system.  WPAHS believes he was methodically and criminally syphoning money into a personal account that he set up in the system's name. Since we discovered his actions, we have thoroughly scrutinized and enhanced our internal control processes to deter any individual, regardless of work responsibility or intent, from perpetrating this type of crime again.  WPAHS is grateful to the Pittsburgh Police, Allegheny County and the District Attorney - all of whom responded immediately and are helping to ensure that justice is served in this case.   WPAHS does carry insurance to protect us from such criminal acts, and we plan to file the appropriate paperwork with our provider for reimbursement."