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ALLEGHENY COUNTY CONTROLLER'S AMENDED ANNUAL REPORT 1967-1978. ALLEGHENY COUNTY CONTROLLER'S 1979 ANNUAL REPORT. CYRIL H. WECHT (03/05/85)

decided: March 5, 1985.

IN RE: ALLEGHENY COUNTY CONTROLLER'S AMENDED ANNUAL REPORT 1967-1978. IN RE: ALLEGHENY COUNTY CONTROLLER'S 1979 ANNUAL REPORT. CYRIL H. WECHT, M.D., J.D., FORMER CORONER, APPELLANT


Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In Re: Allegheny County Controller's Amended Annual Report 1967-1978, No. Misc. 11 April Term, 1979, and In Re: Allegheny County Controller's 1979 Annual Report, No. GD80-2600.

COUNSEL

David J. Armstrong, with him, Richard C. Polley, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C., for appellant.

Byrd R. Brown, with him, Doris A. Smith, Solicitor to the Controller, and Louis S. Gold, Assistant Solicitor to Controller, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., MacPhail, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Williams, Jr., and Judge Craig did not participate in the decision in this case. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Crumlish

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 129]

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., appeals an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order surcharging him for non-county services performed by his office and employees during his tenure as Allegheny County Coroner.

Wecht served as Coroner from January 1970 to January 1980. Without County authorization, he allowed autopsies and tissue slide preparation to be performed for other counties at his office by County employees during their normal working hours, using County equipment and materials. Resulting funds were deposited into private checking accounts maintained by his office, known as the Professional Education Fund, from which Wecht made disbursements. He did not account for or deposit in the County Treasury the funds raised by his services to other counties. Also, without County authorization, tissue specimens accepted by Wecht's private laboratory, Pittsburgh Pathology and Toxicology Laboratory (PP&TL), were delivered to his office for testing. Wecht did not pay the County for this service.

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 130]

The common pleas court surcharged Wecht $195,389.00 plus $41,368.93 interest with respect to the "Report Concerning the Allegheny County Coroner's Office 1967-1978" (Lynch Surcharge) and $13,254.81 plus $2,403.29 interest with respect to the supplement to the Controller's 1979 Annual Report entitled "In Re: Allegheny County Controller's 1979 Annual Report" (Lucchino Surcharge).

Wecht's major contentions are that (1) he was improperly surcharged for his services to other counties,*fn1 (2) pursuant to the letter and spirit of Sections 1 and 2 of the Act of May 15, 1945, P.L. 538, formerly 65 P.S. §§ 191, 192 (Act of 1945),*fn2 surcharges against him should not have exceeded the actual financial loss suffered by the County, and (3) interest should not have been assessed against the principal amounts surcharged.*fn3 These legal questions are subject to this Court's review. 2 Pa. C.S. § 704.*fn4

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 131]

Wecht argues that, because he was not statutorily obligated to perform his services for other counties,*fn5 they were not part of his "official" duties as Coroner and therefore the constitutional*fn6 and statutory*fn7 requirements that funds be turned over to the County do not apply to the resulting monies. However, when this case was before this Court on preliminary objections, we held that because the services were performed under the auspices of the Coroner's office, using County facilities, they were closely associated with the Coroner's office as an official County office. Lucchino Appeal, 62 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 58, 62, 434 A.2d ...


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