A former cashier at the Scranton Single Tax Office, Michelle D Finnerty, was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, make restitution, and enter into a one-year Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program on November 8, 2012, after admitting to taking $1,850.95 from the office.
The Single Tax Office, through its controller at the time, Kim Shina, aided by Tax Collector Bill Courtright (who is currently running for mayor of Scranton), discovered the missing money that was part of a payment processed by Finnerty on February 14, 2011, in the amount of $2,357.87. Finnerty deposited only $506.92 at a Fidelity Bank branch that same day, according to arrest papers.
February 14, 2011: Payment & Deposit
According to Courtright, the tax office first discovered money was missing in early May 2012, following a call from the bank. Finnerty was not currently working for the tax office at the time they discovered the missing money. “She was out on medical leave,” said Courtright.
May 27, 2012: Ms. Finnerty applied for unemployment benefits. Her application was approved, and she was paid $368 every two weeks from June 12 to December 11, 2012, according to state Department of Labor & Industry accounting provided to the Independent Gazette by an anonymous source.
May 31, 2012: Finnerty was officially laid off.
July 9, 2012: The first interview by county detectives regarding the missing money was conducted.
Aug. 3, 2012: Detective Jordan charged Finnerty with theft.
Nov 8, 2012: Finnerty was sentenced to a one-year ARD, set to expire November 7, 2013.
Shina resigned from the Single Tax Office on July 27, 2013, via a resignation letter, a copy of which was provided to the Gazette. In the letter Shina stated that she was leaving her post because “Bill [Courtright] is very unethical and has created a hostile work environment.” Shina also stated in her letter that she “fixed what she was allowed to.” Shina told the Independent Gazette that she was prevented by Courtright from investigating Finnerty’s records beyond the one missing deposit the bank informed the tax office about.
According to a union representative, Finnerty remains on the active call-back list for the Single Tax Office, and is in first call-back position should the need arise. Courtright told the Gazette, “I have no intention of ever calling her back,” yet couldn’t explain why Finnerty was never officially terminated. When asked why Finnerty wasn’t originally suspended pending the outcome of the investigation Courtright responded, “I called the DA as soon as I knew.”