Well well...Look what's been going on at the district attorney's office...http://www.ncnewsonline.com/topstories/x541067520/Probe-focuses-on-former-district-attorney-funds
August 8, 2011
Probe focuses on former district attorney funds
Debbie Wachter Morris
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE — State police have served two search warrants and obtained bank records from the former Lawrence County district attorney’s administration.
The investigation surrounds arson and drug task force money they allege was unaccounted for during the term of John Bongivengo.
District Judge Melissa A. Amodie granted the search warrants March 25 and state police filed the results July 20, according to court papers.
One was served March 31 at First National Bank, 32 N. Mill St., where investigators took financial papers of the arson investigation team.
The other was served April 27 at First Commonwealth Bank, 27 E. Washington St., where police obtained records regarding drug task force seizure funds.
The state police special investigations unit from Erie is conducting the probe, which began Nov. 3, 2009, according to court documents.
The investigation focuses on disposition of restitution paid to the district attorney’s office and cash seizures stored there as a result of police investigations between Jan. 2, 2006, and Jan. 4, 2010.
After conducting interviews with current district attorney, Joshua Lamancusa, his staff, police agencies, crime victims and defendants, it has been determined that several circumstances exist where money was paid to and/or stored at the district attorney’s office and is unaccounted for, the paperwork said.
A ledger kept to record restitution payments also disappeared prior to Lamancusa taking office, the court documents note.
Interviews with Lamancusa and his staff have revealed at that time, the office had no specific account to manage money received for restitution, and that money collected for that purpose may have been deposited and disbursed from the accounts identified, state police indicated.
Specifically, Ellwood City police delivered to the district attorney’s office $2,180 seized in a drug investigation, investigators said. That money later was determined to be missing and unaccounted for, they allege.
The police also allege $4,951 in restitution payments by three defendants were not forwarded to the victims of three separate crimes.
“The bank account materials sought are necessary to determine whether the missing moneys were or were not deposited and, if withdrawn, by whom,” the court documents note.
Lamancusa said the investigation began before he took office in January 2010.
“I was informed of it when I took office by troopers and the office of the attorney general,” he said.
Lamancusa said investigators have interviewed him about office policies and practices and his knowledge of past practices, “but I’m not privy to the details of the investigation.”
Bongivengo said he has not been interviewed by investigators and, until contacted by The News, was unaware of any probe.
“Obviously I’m out of the loop on it.”
Lamancusa said he has made “substantial changes” in the district attorney’s office, from processing cases to financial accounting and how the office receives restitution money. He noted that the county and state audit funds of his office.
Lawrence County Controller David Gettings said his office oversees the district attorney’s office’s annual audit, but in the past it did not see restitution or drug money records.
Since Lamancusa took office, the restitution money runs through the county’s records and checks are written from the controller’s office, he said. Lamancusa deposits that money at the prothonotary’s office, “and the money is paid in and paid out so there is a trail.”