11 Investigates Exclusive: More than $100,000 in drug money missing from AG’s office

WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s narcotics office in North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, is under fire tonight after $100,000 has turned up missing.

11 Investigates has learned that there is a criminal investigation into the office after agents discovered $100,000 in drug forfeiture money and drug buy money was unaccounted for.

A nondescript gray block building along Route 30 in North Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County is home to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control.

According to the Attorney General’s website, it’s “one of the largest agencies in the nation devoted exclusively to drug enforcement.”

But 11 Investigates has learned that there’s now a criminal investigation into this office after more than $100,000 in drug forfeiture money and drug buy money turned up missing.

11 Investigates reached out to the Pa. Attorney General’s office but in an emailed response, they had little to say.

“Sorry, I do not have a comment for you,” wrote the AG’s Press Secretary.

But sources tell 11 Investigates that agents in the Attorney General’s office discovered the missing money earlier this year.

It includes at least $77,000 in drug forfeiture money that was recovered from drug dealers in Western Pennsylvania and at least $24,000 in controlled drug buy funds.

That money is used in undercover drug operations to purchase illegal drugs and track down criminals in western Pennsylvania.

Sources said a limited number of employees who work in this building had access to that cash.

Sources also said it’s unclear why the office had $77,000 in drug forfeiture money.

They said that amount of money should be deposited in the bank, a check issued and then turned over to the Asset Forfeiture department in Harrisburg.

Law enforcement sources said all of the information about the missing money has now been turned over to the Westmoreland County District Attorney’s office.

11 Investigates reached out to the Westmoreland County DA’s office.  We received the response below.

“At this time, we cannot confirm or deny there is an investigation and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further,” said Melanie Jones, a spokesperson for the Westmoreland Co. District Attorney.

We also reached out to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala just to see how law enforcement is supposed to handle drug forfeiture and drug buy money.

Zappala has no connections to the case or investigation of the AG’s Office in Westmorland County.

“We have an individual internal outside audit of our office.  We have two people who are dedicated for those funds,” said Allegheny Co. District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

Zappala has worked with drug forfeiture and drug buy money for years after launching a county-wide drug task force in Allegheny County more than 20 years ago.

He said he has a check and balance system in place and that keeping tabs on these types of funds is critically important.

And he said any issues with that pool of money could ultimately jeopardize court cases.

“Absolutely, there can’t be any dishonesty whatsoever,” said Zappala.

Law enforcement sources tell 11 Investigates that this appears to be an inside job, and right now authorities are the process of trying to track down who’s responsible for taking all of this cash, and why.

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