PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission found Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet committed ethics violations with expenses and time off for trips. It's the result of a two-year probe.
The commission found Superintendent Hamlet violated the ethics code with expenses that should have been returned to district coffers. At a press conference Thursday morning, the superintendent said the report has vindicated him.
"I have done nothing wrong. This actually vindicates me," he said.
Despite being cited for multiple ethics violations and ordered to repay thousands of dollars, Dr. Anthony Hamlet embraced the commission's findings, saying they cleared him of wrongdoing. According to the 147-page report, the commission cited Hamlet for the following ethics violations:
- Kept more than $6,000 in honorariums paid to him on various trips
- Received and kept thousands of dollars in travel expense money reimbursements from conference hosts already paid by the school district
- Marked time spent out of the state and country on personal business as work days instead of properly using vacation days
- Received thousands from the district for "unused" vacation days which he should have marked as used
In accepting the findings, Hamlet and his attorney conceded the superintendent was negligent in these matters and wanted to make it clear he did not intentionally defraud the district.
"They found there was no findings of intent to deceive the families, my staff and the taxpayers of Pittsburgh," said Hamlet.
Pennsylvania Ethics Commission Executive Director Robert Caruso said, "If it was something that happened once it could be an oversight, but our investigators looked at it for over a year and we believe it constitutes a serious breach of trust."
Caruso said Hamlet's actions were not the result of sloppy bookkeeping. He says they showed a pattern of pocketing money that was not rightfully his, like accepting travel reimbursements from conference hosts when the district had already paid.
"But the expenses didn't go back to the district, they went back to Dr. Hamlet and Dr. Hamlet never reimbursed the district," said Caruso.
Now he'll need to pay most of it back. According to the report, Dr. Hamlet has accepted the findings and has agreed to pay $7,900 in reimbursements and fees to the school district and the Pittsburgh Promise. He is also required to return 14 vacation days, which total more than $12,000.
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