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Scranton Fire Chief in Hot Water over Personal Use of Taxpayer-funded Vehicle

SCRANTON, Pa. — The city of Scranton is once again dealing with a controversy involving a high-ranking municipal employee. This time, Scranton Fire Chief ...

SCRANTON, Pa. -- The city of Scranton is once again dealing with a controversy involving a high-ranking municipal employee.

This time, Scranton Fire Chief Pat DeSarno finds himself in hot water over the use of a taxpayer-funded vehicle.

People filled City Council chambers Monday night after DeSarno admitted to fueling up a city vehicle on a family trip to the Jersey shore this summer. Council members were outraged by DeSarno's actions, but they stopped short of calling for his resignation.

"There's a lot of things in this city that needs to be closely scrutinized, and we have just found that out more than ever this year," said Joan Hodowanitz of Scranton.

DeSarno says he didn't realize it was wrong because when he was appointed chief four years ago, there was no specific policy stating he couldn't use the gas card.

"I don't really care if there's a written policy or not. It's just basic common sense," Council Member Kyle Donahue said.

After this came to light a few months ago, a policy was put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.

DeSarno was appointed chief by former mayor Bill Courtright four years ago. Three months ago, Courtright resigned from his position after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

Recently, DeSarno agreed with current mayor Wayne Evans to do a self-audit and pay back what he owes for his trip to the Jersey shore.

"The fire chief makes nearly $90,000 a year. There's no reason at all for any kind of perk or any kind of inferred agreement," said Council Member Bill Gaughan.

Council members are now looking to audit all 80 city employees who have gas cards going back over the last three years.

"I'm tired of this good-old-boy network. 'We shook hands on the deal.' Let's get it in writing," said Hodowanitz.

Council members also say they are looking into the possibility of putting GPS tracking devices on city vehicles to prevent this from happening in the future.