Exclusive Interview: Ohioville Borough Secretary Speaks Out About Corruption

Paul Steff / photo by John Paul

Ohioville Solicitor Paul Steff / photo by John Paul

After nearly 12 years of dedicated service to the people of Ohioville Borough, longtime secretary Maureen Hapach has resigned to take a position in the private sector. In a series of exclusive interviews with the Beaver Countian, Hapach talked about discovering alleged fraud by the town’s former police chief, about retaliation by borough officials against the officer she went to for help, and about claims of her own mistreatment at the hands of the town’s solicitor.

“I suspected a couple of years ago that there were problems with [Chief Ronald Lutton's] time sheets,” Hapach began. “I was working long hours and was always in the office. I noticed the amount of time Ron was listing on his cards and I thought to myself, ehh I don’t think so; I didn’t see him around on the days he had listed. I brought what I suspected to [Solicitor Paul Steff] and he told me not to make any waves. I kind of doubted myself after that and let it go.”

Leaked emails dating to 2010, purportedly from the Ohioville Police Department’s internal CrimeStar records management system, appear to show Chief Lutton threatening his officers’ jobs because of a complaint that was made about his time sheets.

Hapach said it would be almost two more years before she recognized a much larger problem with Chief Ron Lutton’s time sheets – her alleged discovery would later lead to the man’s arrest.

“It was February of 2012 when I first noticed something odd about his court slips,” said Hapach. “Ron stapled his court hearings to his time sheets, where the other officers were not allowed to staple their court hearings to their stuff, they had to paperclip them. I went through it and noticed the dates were altered or the times were altered.. it looked like he typed over it. I had also noticed that the courts changed their computer system and changed the format of the documents officers got. But all of the documents Ron was submitting with his time sheets were still in the format from the old system.”

After previously having her concerns about Lutton dismissed by Solicitor Steff, Hapach said this time she knew she would need concrete proof before speaking up again. “I started keeping tabs of the names of defendants that were on Ron’s sheets, and noticed all of the same names kept appearing. These same cases were having hearings over and over and over again. I thought to myself, how many times is this person possibly going to court? I kept a tally of the names for a few months. By July I’m like, this is too much.”

Hapach said this time she knew she had a responsibility to make waves over the problem.

“I knew Assistant Chief Mark Smilek was close to Ron, and I suspected that he already knew what Ron was doing. I knew [Officer Nevin Beatty] was on the up and up and went strictly by the book. I also trusted [Officer Nick McHenry], so I decided I was going to ask one of them to look at these court slips to see if they saw the same problems I did. It just so happened the day payroll was here Nevin was the one working.”

Hapach approached Officer Nevin Beatty and showed him the court slips that Chief Ronald Lutton had been submitting to justify overtime pay. “Officers see these court documents all the time, I’m a layman so I really wanted to be sure about what I was looking at. I asked Nevin, does this look right to you, am I seeing things? He said no, no, no, those are wrong. He told me he would check into it.”

On August 1st 2012, Officer Nevin Beatty met with Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Joseph Olayer in a parking lot of the Brady’s Run Ice Arena to provide information about alleged forgery and fraud by Ohioville Borough Police Chief Ronald Lutton.

Maureen Hapach would later do an extensive examination of the Borough’s records. She alleges the fraud perpetrated by Chief Ronald Lutton began all the way back in 1992 and continued uninterrupted until shortly before his arrest. By her calculations, Lutton has stolen over $250,000 from taxpayers.

“Ron is a very vindictive person, he will go after you, he’s made it perfectly clear in the past that he would get any person that ever did anything to him. He told me that he would take people out. Nevin and I were both very fearful, and we still are, for our safety and our families’ safety,” said Hapach. “The next day on August 2nd I met with the State Police to give my statement [...] I even borrowed someone else’s car so I wouldn’t be noticed.”

Hapach said the State Police told them both not to go to anyone else because they weren’t sure who may be involved in the alleged scheme. “One of the councilmen got an anonymous phone call from someone. So by the next day three of our councilmen knew and [Assistant Chief Mark Smilek] knew, and by the following day [Chief Ron Lutton] knew too.”

According to Hapach, Solicitor Paul Steff also learned that she and Officer Beatty had went to the State Police. “He was pissed, he was irate, he was yelling. ‘Why would you go to the State Police, I’m above the State Police, the State Police have no authority here, I have more authority than the State Police.’ I thought to myself, that was strange, why would a solicitor have more authority than the Pennsylvania State Police? [...] That’s when I knew I did the right thing, if I had gone through Paul [Steff] it all would have been swept under the rug again.”

Hapach said Paul Steff had her gather up all of the evidence against Ronald Lutton and take it to Steff’s house so he could give it to Ron. “He’s been texting me ever since, Ron needs this, Ron needs that. I was wondering why he was even talking to Ron directly, I felt he should have been going through his attorney [...] I saw Ron leaving Paul’s house before so I know they’ve been meeting together in person too [...] Paul Steff doesn’t have the borough’s best interest at heart, he’s got Ron Lutton’s best interest at heart.”

Several Ohioville Borough council members that the Beaver Countian spoke to shared Hapach’s assessment. They spoke on condition they not be quoted by name while discussing conversations that took place during executive sessions of council. They allege it was Paul Steff who pushed council into allowing Chief Ronald Lutton to retire instead of firing him, and it was Steff who was helping to orchestrate retaliatory acts against Officer Nevin Beatty. At least two council members have walked out of executive sessions because they believed the things Paul Steff was saying were unethical, or perhaps even unlawful.

Hapach said Steff began threatening and harassing her about cooperating with authorities, and about the alleged corruption in Ohioville Borough becoming public. “I remember September 11th, 2013. He was irate because things were getting out of his control, and he thought Nevin was talking to the Beaver Countian. He wanted me to talk to Nevin because he thought he and I were friends. He wanted me to help make it all go away [...] Paul said, I tried to talk to you friend-to-friend but it’s getting to the point where you’re not listening to me, so things are going to start happening to you, things that aren’t going to be so nice.”

While Hapach claims she was routinely harassed and threatened, it was Officer Nevin Beatty who took the brunt of the backlash. The Beaver Countian has published dozens of articles since January of 2013 detailing alleged acts of retaliation against him, ranging from dramatic reductions in his scheduled hours and three suspensions from duty, to a private criminal complaint filed against the officer by a man who later admitted he was goaded by the town’s mayor. Beatty has been on an indefinite suspension for the past 6 weeks. The officer had no prior disciplinary record with the department before going to the Pennsylvania State Police about Chief Lutton. Beatty has filed a lawsuit against Ohioville Borough and several of its officials alleging violations of the Pennsylvania State Whistleblower’s Law, and a second lawsuit in federal court alleging civil rights violations.

“Paul [Steff] knew the cuts in Nevin’s hours were causing him financial problems, he told me that he hopes Nevin starves to death and dies [...] He told me if I did anything else I was next in line.”

Maureen Hapach decided not to wait to find out what officials in Ohioville Borough may have had planned for her. She found a job in the private sector and resigned as secretary late last month. “It came to the point where the work environment was so stressful that my work was suffering immensely. I resisted for a long time but my doctor finally convinced me to start taking anxiety medication [...] I used to love to go to work, I just loved it. I never called off once in the 11 years I was there before all of this happened. Not a single time. But I just can’t do it anymore, I just can’t do it.”

Ronald Lutton has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him by the Pennsylvania State Police, and is currently awaiting trial on 64 felony counts of forgery scheduled for September.

Ohioville Borough Solicitor Paul Steff, who also serves as the Chief Beaver County Public Defender, did not return a message left for him again today seeking comment. Steff has also ignored numerous other detailed messages seeking comment that have been left for him over the phone and in person throughout the past year. Paul Steff has previously made it clear through an intermediary that he never intends to speak with this publication.

Borough Solicitor Paul Steff in Executive Session / photo by John Paul

Borough Solicitor Paul Steff in Executive Session / photo by John Paul

 

29 comments

  1. Wow, Good article.

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  2. this secretary is a hero we need more people like her in government instead of people like her being chased out of it

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  3. Aren’t Mr. Steff’s actions obstruction of justice?  Why hasn’t he been disbarred yet and why is the bar not investigating his involvement?
    Granted, Beaver County has more convicted felons practicing law than we should, but it’s time to stop spending tax dollars on corrupt attorneys and start putting them in jail.

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  4. I could use some help Im being screwed screwed by corruption whistle blowing on people building without building permits drug trafficking he wiggles trucking corrupt police men

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  5. I would put in a call to the US attorney in your district. you will get the FBI on it pronto. the US Attorney’s Office has politicians in New York oh hai O Denver and New Orleans running.. you can’t deal with Pennsylvania politicians because they’re all under investigation. you’re going to hear some disturbing news later. they are brighter days ahead for Beaver County.

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  6. I worked under Chief Lutton several years ago and kinda suspected this was going on. Too many times it would be snowing and Lutton would call to have someone cover his shift so he could plow snow in Brighton Township. But Lutton never seemed to use vacation time to cover the the shifts he missed. It’s ashame, Lutton seemed like a nice guy. As for Steff, he’s little troll!

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  7. SpeakTheTruthToo

    Bwhaahahhaha! This attorney thinks he is above the PA State Police. What an arrogant piece of shit. His arrogance will do him in one day too.

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  8. A very, very disturbing, yet excellently researched and presented article, John Paul. And Steff is a Beaver County Public Defender — more links to the courthouse to reveal more of the far-reaching web of corruption. This could also be more than a little worrisome to his clients. No honor among thieves.    

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  9. Wow! I can’t say I blame her for putting this out in the open. I do think she is the one retaliating after all lutton and her did have a relationship and then he broke it off and right after is when she decided to put this out there. Beatty has been seen at her house also.

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    • YA LETS START DIRTYING UP THE WOMAN BY CALLING HER A SLUT CUZ THATS HOW WE DO IT HERE IN THE BC!  SORRY OLD TRICKS WONT WORK THIS TIME!

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    • MAREEN IS MARRIED AND WOULDNT FUCK RON EVEN IF SHE WAS USING THE STUMP BETWEEN PAUL STEFF’S LEGS TO DO IT

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    • Why don’t you use your real name before  you slander someone?

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  10. The courthouse yeti sure has been busy.

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  11. I congratulate officer Beatty and Mrs. Hapach for doing what is right. Leave it to a corrupted pig and and his right hand circle jerk to steal money from the community and the state. I hope they both see this too because I have one word for both of them KARMA. How dare you lie about your hours and steal food or any other thing my children might need or the schools might need or anything else that could be used for good to help the good hearted tax payers of this state. Grow a set of balls and work your ass off like everyone else that has a job does. Its called hard work you pig. Just remember karma is a SOB. And then to threaten the people that turned your asses in because they did what was right in their heart. What a shame Way to make your family and your mother and father really proud of you. You deserve to be behind bars and get everything you deserve.

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  12. Cant wait for Olayer to roll in Aliquippa and clean out the corruption there ! He started with the sheriffs dept, now Ohiovlle hopefully Aliquippa will be his next stop !

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    • REALLY? And Hopewell just hired the president of the Commissioners to replace the Township Manager- they did no advertising or interviewing to see if they couldn’t do better than Norm, who had been working at Barnes and Noble? Norm is gonna fix Hopewell?? His degree in public speaking will take him far in Hopewell. No common sense just a lot of bullshit

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    • Hopewell hired their engineer full time and gave her full benefits instead of using the engineering firm if they occasionally needed a consultant- look at the budget for the new engineer. They could have paved some roads with all that money instead of crying that they can’t afford to fix their roads. The Hopewell Shopping Center is really run down and they dropped the ball on attracting new business. Everything is going to Center Twp. 

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      • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Mario pleazeeeeeeee,that was a train wreck,the main problem is who is sitting on the board as far as I know only one of them is educated enough to have the job. Oh yes some are nice people but not up to the job and some are only out for themselves and their buddies .Center had the brains to hire a professional to do the job of attracting business what does Hopewell have except pizza parlors, drug stores and dollar stores and jails and magistrates offices on property which was supposed to be used for business,and just guess who is responsilble for the roads there ,.not the county!!!!!!!.And tell me why there are no restaurants in the complex even if the financing was available,not one of the good old boys I guess.My opinions only 

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  13. Sounds like Mrs. Hapach was retaliated against for whistleblowing.  Hint – look outside the county for representation!

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  14. So Lutton may have stolen $250,000 and only have to pay back about 1/4 of it?  WTF?  Steff surely didn’t have the people that pay his salary at heart, and who knows about the members of council that were also involved.  Lutton and Steff should be jailed for sure, and then start looking into council members.  Of course, none of this will happen though.  A**holes never get caught.  It’s always the working people that get screwed.  I just hope Hapach and Beatty get their nice big check.  Thanks Lutton and Steff for nothing.

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    • One other thing.  Why is Steff and Smilek so adamant about protecting Lutton?  Why was Smilek possibly willing to turn his back to the situation?  Why did Steff fight so hard so Lutton could retire and get his pention?  Maybe Lutton has dirt on them and this was their way to pay Ron to keep him quiet?

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  15. Perhaps there may be people interested in what’s going on in Harmony Twp. Seem like we had a borough that was employed by Harmony Twp. Borough for 30 years. All of a sudden we all get our sewage bills raised rather high in my opinion. Then about 4 months later around a 120% increase in our bills. Meanwhile no one ever thought to send out notices about the raise hikes. ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Then it comes out the lady who worked collecting all monies for the sewage had stolen over $ 90,000.00 WOW. Then it was later released it’s up to over $ 190.000. Now they only went back to 2006 because of statue of limitations. She was quoted in the paper saying she didn’t care. Well I care and all the people are having to come up with large sums of money on lower incomes to pay our bills. Something tells me an auditor should have picked up this info long before this. Maybe people share, I don’t know. I would think however that ANY PERSON WHO HANDLES LOTS OF MONEY SHOULD BE CHECKED OFTEN> JUST A THOUGHT…………..Another thing what else is going on in our bourough

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  16. No kidding!? Steff and Lutton are pigs, and even though it will take a while, they’ll get what’s rightfully coming to them. And don’t think for a minute that there isn’t fraud in every little town up and down the valley. Yes, the borough secretary may be a hero but she was there for a LONG time. Something or someone pissed her off and she finally decided to get revenge. I think it’s much deeper than this article. 

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  17. @quality queen….I absolutely agree with you!

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  18. open your eyes

    Told ya before clean house all of them which past ohioville officials just got nailed shoplifting

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  19. just to clarify everybody bsmith that is commenting on this page IS NOT BRENDA SMITH OF OHIOVILLE. SHE IS SICK OF PEOPLE THINKING SHE IS LEAVING THESE COMMENTS. 

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  20. open your eyes

    Sure knows a lot to not be I know scared of Stef and retaliation

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