The Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office is now investigating possible pension fraud in Ohioville Borough, a source within the state office has confirmed to the Beaver Countian.
The investigation by auditors working on behalf of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is focusing on the Ohioville Borough Police Department. Ohioville does not have its own pension fund and relies on a state fund for borough employees.
Ohioville Borough Council voted in January of this year to allow former Police Chief Ronald Lutton to retire, rather than fire him, after evidence of massive fraud dating back decades was allegedly uncovered by the town’s secretary. Lutton is currently awaiting trial on 64 felony counts of forgery for allegedly concocting fictitious court slips to justify overtime pay he did not earn. Former Borough Secretary Maureen Hapach has alleged Lutton stole over $250,000 from taxpayers since 1992 as part of his scheme.
Hapach resigned at the end of last month alleging she was being harassed and threatened by Ohioville Borough Solicitor Paul Steff for going to the State Police with evidence against Lutton.
Ohioville Council approved a tentative plea deal for Ronald Lutton which would have allowed him to collect his state retirement and use those funds to pay restitution of just $60,000 to local taxpayers. But law enforcement sources say the Auditor General’s Office is concerned that if the accusations against Lutton are true, Ohioville Council may effectively be allowing their former Chief to steal from the state to repay the borough, as his alleged forgeries would have defrauded the state pension fund along with the municipality. Sources tell the Beaver Countian that auditors are also examining the possibility that the alleged fraud perpetrated by Lutton was so extensive he may not even qualify to receive a state pension.
Ohioville Borough had failed to notify the state about possible problems with Ronald Lutton’s pension account.
Courthouse sources tell the Beaver Countian that officials with the Auditor General’s Office have met with the Beaver County District Attorney’s Office about the matter. Those sources also say the Beaver County Detectives Bureau is now reinvestigating the case against Ronald Lutton in an attempt to determine more precisely how much he may have bilked from taxpayers.
Sources within the District Attorney’s Office tell the Beaver Countian a tentative plea deal that had been negotiated with Ronald Lutton is now moot and the case will likely go to trial.