New Castle News


March 26, 2014

Overtime pay the crux of vo-tech forensic audit

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s former assistant business manager allegedly logged overtime while on vacation, an audit report shows.

Results of a forensic audit are key to the county vocational-technical school straightening out its finances and moving forward, its administrative director and business manager, Leonard A. Rich, said last week.

The audit has resulted in the state police filing felony theft-related charges against Chastity Yvett Williams, 37, of Union Township.

The report alleges she took about $92,413 from the school through unauthorized overtime payments while she was its assistant business manager.

One notation in the audit is that from July 2012 through June 2013, Williams allegedly reported vacation time and overtime hours for the same days.

She received $1,071.54 in unauthorized time-and-a-half pay for those days, the report said.

Tuesday, Williams deferred comment to her attorney about the audit contents and charges.

“From a general standpoint, my client is innocent,” her attorney, James Manolis said. “This is an unfortunate case about a highly educated, hard-working, well-respected mother of five, charged with criminal conduct because of the ineptitude of others.”

Manolis said he accompanied Williams to the district judge office in Ellwood City March 7 when charges were filed and “she turned herself in.”

Williams faces a preliminary hearing April 8. She was not arraigned on the charges but was released and sent a summons to appear in court.

Manolis did not comment on the audit report, saying he has not yet reviewed it.

In October, the school’s joint operating committee hired forensic auditors Zelenkofske-Axelrod of Wexford to examine its financial records from March 1, 2010, through Aug. 31, 2013.

The firm, which was paid about $10,000, was instructed to look for any unusual and unauthorized transactions.

The operating committee authorized Rich to turn over the audit results to the Lawrence County district attorney, he said, “because it’s not my job to determine if something is criminal or not.”

The center’s former director and business manager, Andrew J. Tommelleo, who was Williams’ supervisor, had resigned in mid-June amid controversy over the school’s finances.

In question was why the adult practical nursing program was operating in the red and draining the school’s funds, and what had happened to the fund balance the nursing program had in prior years.

For a few years during Tommelleo’s tenure, the center had problems building annual budgets that met with the approval of member school districts. The school temporarily closed in summer 2011 after member school boards refused to approve a budget before June 30.

The school budget came close to rejection again last year because of the practical nursing program deficit. Instead, the joint operating committee voted in the spring to close the nursing program. It ended in February after its last class had graduated.

Williams remained in her position at the school two more months after Tommelleo had left, resigning effective Aug. 31.

Domenic J. Ionta, a retired school superintendent, was named interim director in mid-June, serving until Rich was hired in October.

Leroy Cortez of Ellwood City, a joint operating committee member, commented at last week’s meeting, “Some months ago, the (committee) made a widespread decision to pay for a forensic audit and through it, we have been able to recover a lot of money we lost.”

While the money has not actually been recovered, Rich said he believes the center will take steps to ensure it is.

“The forensic audit is a positive, not a negative,” Rich said last week. “If people are to be accountable, then they’re to be accountable.”


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Shenango1.jpg Shenango Township: Supervisors fire Tanner, release DeLorenzo

    The Shenango supervisors fired township secretary/treasurer Brian Tanner and terminated auditor and consultant Deno DeLorenzo last night.

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos 4 Stories

  • gavel.jpg Shenango to take action on Tanner, DeLorenzo

    Shenango’s supervisors will act Thursday night on the employment contracts of two men being investigated for possible theft of township funds.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • money.jpg Shenango computers, financial papers seized

    Investigators have seized computers and a host of financial paperwork from the Shenango Township Municipal Building.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • money.jpg Second warrant issued in Shenango Township finances probe

    The home office of Shenango Township’s secretary/treasurer is the subject of a search warrant. A warrant was approved allowing investigators from the Lawrence County district attorney’s office to search Brian Tanner’s home office at 658 Melody Lane Extension in Shenango and seize all computers and computer records.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Our Opinion: Who’s watching the money in Shenango Township?

    The Shenango Township supervisors have some explaining to do. And that’s putting it mildly.

    July 15, 2014 1 Story

  • Shenango places Tanner on leave, schedules meeting

    The Shenango Township supervisors have placed their secretary/treasurer on leave. In a statement faxed late Monday afternoon to the New Castle News, the supervisors said Brian Tanner had been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of a search warrant served on the township municipal building Friday.

    July 15, 2014

  • DROWN.jpg Local teen drowns in Slippery Rock Creek

    Divers from several fire departments responded yesterday to a drowning in the Kennedy Mill area of Slippery Rock Creek. Reports from the scene indicated that two teenage males from the Ellwood-Wampum area had gone swimming in the creek, and that one had gone under and not resurfaced.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 fell from the sky in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard. Many are speculating that Russian rebels (supported by Vladimir Putin) are responsible for downing the aircraft. What do you think?

Yes. All evidence points that way.
No. Everyone is so quick to point fingers, but there's not enough evidence to support claims of Russian guilt.
I'm not sure. I'll just wait until the investigation is over to make up my mind.
What is up with these Malaysian Airlines planes? I know one airline I won't be flying any time soon...
     View Results