Target 11 investigates city employees getting paid not to work

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PITTSBURGH - They haven't worked in months, but you are still paying their salaries. Four Pittsburgh police department employees put on paid leave in the wake of an FBI investigation into the police department.

Target 11 wanted to know just how much money these employees have received while sitting at home, and how much longer taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

Pittsburgh police department finance manager Sandy Ganster has been on paid leave since March, when her name surfaced during a federal probe into police finances. Acting Chief Regina McDonald placed Ganster on paid leave.

Target 11 obtained the data under a right-to-know request and we did the math. So far, Ganster has collected approximately $25,000 of your tax dollars, and her attorney Bill Difenderfer tells Target 11 that she's never been given a reason for the leave.

"She wants to go back to work. She's ready, willing and able. She's a great employee. She did the right thing as we can see a lot of things are being cleaned up, a lot of things have been revealed because of her efforts," says Difenderfer.

And Target 11 discovered that Ganster isn't alone. McDonald also placed three other police employees on paid leave in February. A spokesman for the employees said they were not given a reason either. And according to city payroll data, Officer Tonya Ford has collected approximately $24,000. Payroll clerk Tamara Davis has pulled in about $15,000 and payroll clerk Kim Montgomery has collected approximately $11,000.

Davis and Ford have been linked to a private security firm started by former Chief Nate Harper.  That private security company is now the subject of an internal review.  It’s unclear if the employees were placed on leave because of that or because of the on-going federal investigation.  A spokesman for the woman told Target 11 that they are just following the acting chief’s orders.

"On behalf of my clients, they are abiding by the orders given to them by the acting chief of police and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP). My clients will continue to operate under said orders from police administration. No further statements will be made in regards to this action,” spokesman Warner Macklin told Target 11.

Whatever the case may be, Councilwoman Theresa Smith, who heads the public safety committee, believes the paid leave has gone on too long, and she said all four employees should be doing some work for the city. 

“Theresa Smith says we need to see that the taxpayers are getting some services for the funding they are putting out,” said Smith.

We asked the acting police chief for a comment, but we never heard back from her.  We also questioned public safety director Mike Huss.  He told Target 11 that the four employees will remain on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the Office of Municipal Investigations. 

Earle asked Huss if he’s concerned about taxpayers paying these employees and getting nothing in return. 

“It's always a concern. It's always a concern but we feel it's the best decision at this time,” said Huss.

Target 11 also discovered several other employees who are the subject of internal investigations and they remain on the job. 

There have been many questions about Commander Eric Holmes who worked a second full time job as the public safety director at Slippery Rock University while he also worked full time as a Pittsburgh Police officer.  

Holmes declined to talk to us at a promotion ceremony a couple months ago.    

Meanwhile, attorney Difenderfer believes that Ganster isn’t getting a fair shake. 

“The city knows exactly what Sandy knew and what she said and there's absolutely nothing wrong. There is absolutely no criminal conduct at all,” said Difenderfer. 

Public safety director Huss said he will make a decision on the future of the four employees as soon as the internal investigation is completed.  Huss said there is no time table for the investigation.