PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Assistant police Chief Linda Barone, claiming retaliation for exposing financial waste.
The suit alleges that Officer Souroth Chatterji was “retaliated against, harassed, intimidated and denied a promotion to sergeant” after reporting that millions of dollars had been paid to Plum-based company B-Three Solutions, Inc. for upgrades that were never completed. The payments dated back to 2006.
“I know many people had a good faith belief that hundreds of thousands of dollars, million of dollars, were being wasted on B-Three Solutions for things that were never happening,” said Chatterji’s attorney, Alec Wright.
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Chatterji made the discovery while conducting an authorized investigation of the information technology systems used by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, according to the lawsuit. He was investigating how the department could upgrade its systems.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Walton claims Chatterji was instructed by former Chief Cameron McLay to investigate B-Three Solutions, the department's IT vendor.
When McLay resigned, Walton said Barone shut down the investigation and he says Chatterji was then denied promotion to sergeant even though he ranked No. 1 in the class.
“He did what was right, what he was ordered to do, by exposing what was wrong, and he's now suffering the consequences,” Wright said.
The lawsuit alleges that the office of municipal investigations and the FBI also investigated the B-Three contract.
On Wednesday, Target 11’s Rick Earle asked the Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich if B-Three did the work they were paid to do.
“I can't answer that. A lot of that occurred before my time here," Hissrich said. "I came into that and saw a problem. Others had seen a problem and I know there were refinements throughout the city to address the problem."
B-Three solutions tells Target 11:
“We find those allegations to be baseless and groundless. B-Three is a company that prides itself on professionalism and integrity.”
The city said that the FBI had reviewed files related to B-Three solutions and there is no investigation into the company or police bureau personnel.
Officer Chatterji remains on the job.
City communications director Timothy McNulty issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
"The City does not comment on legal matters or allegations raised in lawsuits, which in this instance pertain to personnel matters and a contract issued by the Ravenstahl administration.
The City clearly supports a diverse Police Bureau and in the last four years has made great strides in making the bureau more reflective of the city as whole. It is also committed to providing police with the technology they need to make crime-fighting as effective as possible.
According to Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich the Federal Bureau of Investigation reviewed files related to the firm B-Three Solutions and there is currently no investigation into the firm or Police Bureau personnel."
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