Money Matters

The Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office has frozen the bank assets of former Shenango Township auditor/financial adviser, Deno DeLorenzo.

A county detective on Friday served four search warrants on all of DeLorenzo’s accounts at Huntington Bank, First Commonwealth Bank, PNC Bank and First Merit Bank, and his accounts are being seized so he cannot withdraw any money from them.

DeLorenzo’s finances are part of an ongoing investigation into his alleged dealings with former Shenango Township secretary-treasurer Brian Tanner, who was charged Jan. 14 with 500 alleged offenses, including 244 theft charges, 243 forgery, 10 unauthorized access device (credit card) and one count each of conspiracy, corrupt organizations and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities.

The charges focus on more than $1 million of questionable expenditures — $652,000 of which were unauthorized expenses — that Tanner made during his tenure as township secretary-treasurer, District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said during a press conference last month. Those expenditures include checks that Tanner allegedly wrote to himself and to DeLorenzo.

AUDITOR EXAMINATION

Investigators are looking at DeLorenzo because Tanner had written hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable checks to him, according to investigators.

The township supervisors fired the 49-year-old Tanner and terminated DeLorenzo after the investigation came into the public eye.

The investigation showed that DeLorenzo became a township auditor in the early 1990s, and that Tanner became township secretary-treasurer in 1995.

The district attorney’s office interviewed Tanner on Dec. 16 before his arrest, according to information on the search warrant applications.

That document shows that DeLorenzo was paid $517,719.48 between Sept. 2007 and Dec. 31, 2013, while his approved compensation under contract as a financial adviser for the township was only $252,000, or $42,000 a year.

The paperwork also indicates that Tanner paid DeLorenzo — both personally and to DeLorenzo’s Advisor One company — a total of $265,719.48 above DeLorenzo’s permitted contractual pay, and without the knowledge or approval of the township supervisors.

TANNER RECALLS

Tanner told investigators that he and DeLorenzo had conducted the financial responsibilities of the township and that DeLorenzo was both auditor and financial consultant, the court papers say.

Tanner told authorities that DeLorenzo would charge the township $2,000 a month for auditing and $1,500 for consulting, and that he did not submit invoices for his work, the paperwork says.

Tanner told authorities that DeLorenzo would tell him that he had the financial papers and that he would put the invoice in with the financials. Tanner said DeLorenzo would say he completed different tasks such as sewer issues and Tanner would write checks to him, the paperwork says. That was in reference to questions about DeLorenzo being paid more than his $3,500 a month contract.

Tanner told authorities that DeLorenzo had told him that CPA laws had changed and the auditor no longer could work under certain capacities, so he started making the payments to DeLorenzo’s company called Advisor One, the application reads.

In his interview, Tanner said he never made the supervisors aware of payments to that company for their approval, nor were those payments placed in the monthly minutes, the document reads, and the existing and former supervisors in interviews had no idea who or what Advisor One was.

The court paper alleges that Tanner and DeLorenzo had received more than $20,000 in one month, but the expense never went to the supervisors for approval.

Tanner also told investigators that DeLorenzo “made up” an invoice statement and compensation summary that he produced after the auditor general’s findings last year, the application reads.

He also said that DeLorenzo was aware that he was paying himself more than his annual salary through checks he wrote and stamped with the supervisors’ signatures, but DeLorenzo never made the supervisors aware of the payments to Tanner or Advisor One as auditor, and the payments were never itemized specifically in the annual township audit or in the proposed township budgets, the court document alleges.

Tanner advised the authorities that after the state auditor general audit uncovered payments to Tanner and DeLorenzo in 2013, DeLorenzo produced what Tanner said was “manufactured” documentation of services he and DeLorenzo allegedly performed in an effort to try to substantiate the excess payments, the warrant papers show.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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