by: Margaret Harding, TribLIVE Updated:PITTSBURGH —
Authorities accused Mt. Oliver's police chief of stealing more than $8,000 from department checking accounts for himself to spend on credit card and cell phone bills, according to a criminal complaint filed against him Thursday.
Detectives with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office charged Frank Mosesso, 47, with theft by unlawful taking, forgery and misapplication of entrusted property.
District Judge Richard King arraigned Mosesso and released him on his own recognizance.
Mosesso could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at his home hung up on a reporter. His attorney, Bill Difenderfer, declined to comment.
Mosesso is accused of using 14 checks from a Mt. Oliver police bank account to pay for personal credit card bills, a Bill Me Later account, an $842 electric bill and a T-Mobile cell phone bill, according to the complaint.
The checks, written between November 2006 and June 2011, total $3,323.
He also is accused of writing nine checks made payable to cash that total $4,753.
The Tribune-Review reported Wednesday that investigators obtained several search warrants to examine bank and cell phone accounts and other expense records linked to the police chief.
Mosesso has been on paid leave with a shoulder injury since October 2012.
As part of their inquiry, investigators interviewed Christine Secilia, who is described in an affidavit as a former Mt. Oliver police officer who was Mosesso's “girlfriend at one point in time.” Secilia worked in the department for nine years.
Authorities say Mosesso forged Secilia's signature on a check made out to a Capital One credit card and a debit transaction form in 2011. Secilia said the two were “not on good terms” at the time. She said Mosesso wanted separate police department bank accounts because “he was upset that the borough's council had control of his department's money,” according to the criminal complaint.
“She stated that (Mosesso) did not think it was fair that the money received for fines and fees were going to the borough's general fund and he thought that the money should go directly to the police department for things like training,” the complaint states.
Acting Mt. Oliver Chief Matt Juzwick met with detectives from the DA's office and the FBI regarding police accounts at First National Bank and Citizens Bank.
Juzwick told investigators he reviewed the accounts and found payments that were personal in nature.
Mosesso told investigators that when he became chief in 2001, Martin Palma, the council president at the time, told him to open a police department checking account for money obtained trough fees from the magistrate and Court of Common Pleas.
Mosesso said the money was for police equipment and training, and he would reimburse himself when he used his personal credit card for police purchases.
Palma told investigators he never authorized Mosesso to make withdrawals from police checking accounts.
According to the complaint, when detectives asked Mosesso why he would reimburse himself when there was no legitimate law enforcement expense on his credit card, he replied, “If something is not right, I'll take responsibility for it.”
After one interview with investigators, Mosesso told a detective, “I'll pay restitution,” the complaint said.
In an interview with investigators, Diane Holzer, assistant borough secretary, said in September 2005, Mosesso told her he would take responsibility for money the police department seized during investigations. After that, Holzer said she stopped keeping track of the account on her monthly financial reports. When she asked Mosesso for information about the accounts that she could report to council members, Mosesso ignored her requests, according to the complaint.