The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 12, 2013

Leaders mum on audit report that authority faces probe

JOHNSTOWN — City leaders are tight-lipped on an investigation mentioned in a public report on Johnstown Redevelopment Authority finances.

“We have ‘become aware through direct knowledge that a governmental investigation exists related to the activities of a responsible authority employee.’ However the scope and conclusion of the investigation is unknown at this time,” the Wessel & Co. auditor wrote in the 2010 audit, filed in midsummer 2011.

Authority and city officials have provided no additional details.

When The Tribune-Democrat first received credible reports of an investigation, the reporter asked at the October meeting if authority members were aware of any investigation.

“No comment,” was the response from authority Chairman Raymond Balta and Solicitor William G. Barbin, almost in unison.

The newspaper obtained a copy of the audit after filing a request under the state right to know law. Confronted with the auditor’s note, Balta and Barbin have maintained their “no comment” response.

Trigona said he only recently became aware of the investigation and has no more information than Wessel reported.

Redevelopment authority Executive Director Ron Repak said he never heard any more about the investigation and said he has not been questioned. He believes it has concluded.

Johnstown City Manager Kristen Denne said she could not comment.

Wessel would provide no more details.

“We are not allowed to have a conversation with anybody else about our clients,” CEO Robert J. Eyer said.

Pressed for details, noting that the redevelopment authority is a public agency and the audit is a public report on its operation, Eyer said, “Anything we needed to say is all in our audit report.”

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