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AG: Taxpayers Paid For Work On Ex-SSD Business Manager’s Vehicles

February 1, 2019
AG: Taxpayers Paid For Work On Ex-SSD Business Manager's Vehicles

SCRANTON — As the Scranton School District’s longtime business manager, Gregg Sunday used taxpayer money to pay for work on vehicles belonging to himself and his family, state prosecutors claim. The attorney general’s office charged Sunday, 58,of 311 N. 12th Ave., Scranton, with one felony on Friday — conflict of interest restricted activities. Sunday, who spent 33 years in the business office before retiring in 2017, is cooperating with authorities and has reached a plea agreement, his attorney, Patrick A. Casey, said. Neither Casey or state prosecutors would discuss the terms of the agreement. Sunday was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Alyce Hailstone Farrell and released on $10,000 unsecured bail. During his brief court appearance, he also waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His arrest comes four months after a statewide grand jury charged Daniel Sansky, 67, the district’s former fleet manager, with felonies related to routinely overbilling taxpayers and charging the district for work on the personal vehicles of at least a dozen employees or their family members — including Sunday. A trial date for Sansky has not been set. Prosecutors have said Sunday acted as a “co-conspirator” and helped Sansky bypass normal billing procedures. The newest charges come amid an ongoing corruption investigation by the attorney general and increased pressure from the auditor general. Beyond the query into district vehicles, agents have also seized records on transportation. “The investigation is moving forward. We’re looking at a lot of allegations,” Erik L. Olsen, Pennsylvania chief deputy attorney general, said after the arraignment. “The investigation is going full force.” In Sansky’s grand jury presentment, investigators claimed he worked with an “unnamed co-conspirator” to submit invoices that the district never required Chief Operations Officer Jeff Brazil to review or approve. The “unnamed co-conspirator” is Sunday. Instead of submitting invoices to Brazil’s office — the department responsible for vehicles — Sansky sent invoices directly to Sunday. Sunday approved the invoices, including the bills for work done to his own vehicle. In interviews with investigators, Sunday said he was “too busy” to take a close look at each invoice submitted to his office. The district did not require Sansky to submit itemized invoices until 2014, according to the criminal complaint filed Friday. From 2014 to 2016, Sansky worked on vehicles belonging to Sunday and his family at least a dozen times. Sansky then billed the school district for the parts and labor, including new tires, brakes and oil changes, for a total of $8,166.25. Sunday then authorized the district checks to pay Sansky with taxpayer money. “The same work done on his vehicles appeared as bills to district vehicles,” Olsen said. In a press release issued after the arrest, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Sunday violated the public’s trust. “To the people of Scranton who have been calling out for an investigation, and for more transparency and honesty in their government — we heard you,” Shapiro said. “Let me be very clear — this investigation is active and ongoing, and no one is above the law.” Sunday retired in 2017, with a final salary of $123,860. For more than three decades, the school board tasked Sunday with paying bills and balancing budgets. In recent years, as the district’s financial challenges grew, he presented budgets with multi-million dollar deficits and often remained silent as the board opted to fill holes by borrowing money and using one-time revenue. The Pennsylvania Department of Education placed the district in financial recovery status last month. As part of a financial office restructuring, the district created the job of controller and hired Sunday in May 1984, at an annual salary of $22,000. The late John Brazil, chairman of the board’s personnel committee, said at the time restructuring was necessary to address deficiencies found by the state auditor general and district’s independent certified public accountant. Deficiencies included poor record-keeping, a lack of staff followup delaying revenue, poor internal controls and lack of responsibility to the board. “The changes will prove beneficial for taxpayers, the quality of education and the overall system,” Brazil said at the time. In 1989, the board promoted Sunday, who holds a degree in business administration from Wilkes College, to business manager. In more recent years, Sunday’s titles also included chief financial officer and deputy superintendent of finance, though his job duties remained the same. District Superintendent Alexis Kirijan, Ed.D., did not immediately have a comment on the arrest Friday. Check back for updates. Contact the writer: shofius@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9133; @hofiushallTT on Twitter

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