Theft charges withdrawn against Harrison nursery school’s former treasurer, but troubles may continue
All charges have been withdrawn against a former Natrona Heights man accused of stealing close to $12,000 from a Harrison nursery school, but Harrison’s police chief says that doesn’t mean that the man’s troubles have been resolved.
Harrison police Chief Mike Klein said charges against Brian Walter Rigatti were withdrawn because the case is moving to a grand jury and is “getting bigger.”
Rigatti’s attorney, Adam M. Bishop, said he does not believe the grand jury is investigating his client.
Rigatti, 50, of Mt. Lebanon, had been charged with 14 counts of theft.
Police alleged he had taken $11,650 from the Natrona Heights Presbyterian Church Weekday Nursery School between May 2017 and May 2018.
Parents of past and current students believed their bank accounts had been compromised by someone affiliated with the school, police said. Three fraudulent charges had been made to the school’s bank account, and multiple checks allegedly had been made out to Rigatti without their knowledge.
“I don’t believe he’s the target,” Bishop said Friday. “We don’t believe based on the evidence we have that he’s the target of the grand jury investigation.”
Bishop did not know who the target is, but said Rigatti could be a witness.
“The theft is not the focus of the grand jury,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office referred questions to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office; DA’s spokesman Mike Manko did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
As for the theft charges against Rigatti, Bishop said it had been a “misunderstanding,” and that he thought the case could have been resolved “painlessly” at the magisterial level.
Police allege Rigatti admitted to the thefts, saying he had written checks to himself out of the school’s bank account because he had fallen on hard times.
“He has no criminal history whatsoever,” Bishop said. “It was just an issue where it boiled down to a misunderstanding. He’s more than happy to pay the money back.”
He said Rigatti had the money to make restitution, but that he does not believe Rigatti has done so.
Bishop said he did not know if charges would be refiled against Rigatti.
“I’m sure they’ll threaten to refile,” he said.