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 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.

7 comments

  • savescrantonhistory

    I’ve been saying that they should install GPS devices on ALL city vehicles for YEARS now. Not only that but they should be able to be tracked by not only the higher ups but also the public so that it could be determined whether or not these people are doing their jobs while driving these vehicles. I’d also suggest precincts in each section of the city for the police with WALKING beats as opposed to having them driving around wasting gas like I see so often happening in parking lots around the city. Cars running, gas and tax dollars being wasted. Then when they get out you realize why they’re driving. Because there’s no way they’d pass the fitness requirements for the job. Somebody needs to crack the whip in this city and it sure as heck won’t be the current elected officials who wanna make sure the union(s) put them back in for another term come re-election time.

  • Matt Berns

    When you use a gas card you must type in the mileage of the vehicle. When inspecting the WEEKLY OR MONTHLY gasoline logs the mileage should be consistent with the vehicle being driven. Who was doing the logs and letting this slide?

  • Mopar Driver (@RustyMopars)

    Lets see stealing from taxpayers the use of a state Vehicle , the gas for your vacation and all while on paid vacation , And why isn’t this crudball forced to resign or simply Fired for thefts. Or does the union take offense ? Ha !

    • Terry Lowe

      Tax hikes and tax hikes and oh yea another tax hike.Wake up Scranton and get the heck out of Scranton.it cost too much to live there. Pretty soon it will be decided that Scranton will have at all entrances and exits into and out of the city taxed.
      Maybe make it like a toll collection system like the PA-TURN Pike. Staff will be paid $90k yr. Don’t laugh they could do it.

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