Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Former T/E School District Transportation Supervisor Arrested for Stealing Gas from Taxpayers

I don’t think any of us like paying the gas prices these days, but what’s the alternative? Apparently, if you are 60-year old Toni Pulcini you figure out a way to get taxpayers to pay for your gas. Philadelphia’s news networks are reporting that Pulcini, the former supervisor of T/E School District’s transportation used the District issued gas credit card as her own. Over the course of a year, between November 2011 and November 2012, Pulcini ran up gas receipts in excess of $8,000 using the District’s gas credit card for her own vehicles.

In today’s Main Line Suburban article, Rich Llgenfritz explains that T/E School District reported unusual activity on the credit card and reported the matter to Tredyffrin Township police in December. The investigation by the police indicates email exchanges between Pulcini and the District’s business manager Art McDonnell where she apologizes and offers financial difficulties as an explanation for her actions. Pulcini claims that someone she met online who took out a loan in her name scammed her.

In one of her email exchanges, Pulcini writes, “I have loans for $30,000 and then I had to pay for rent, food and all that. I needed to get to work so I was desperate, scared and just trying to survive. Sometimes I didn’t even have money for food.” However, it is interesting to note that Pulcini not only used the gas card to go back and forth to her TESD job from her home in Easton, MD but the gas receipts indicate that she also traveled to the Jersey Shore for vacation. I am finding it difficult to be sympathetic to Pulcini’s financial woes, when I read that she had money for a family vacation; at the taxpayer’s expense.

Pulcini was arrested this week and charged with 151 counts of ‘access device fraud’ and three counts each of theft by deception, receiving stolen property and theft of property. A preliminary hearing is set for March 6. Good investigative work by the Tredyffrin Township Police Department.

In Pennsylvania, access device fraud is defined as follows:

Access Device Fraud Title 18 C.S. 4106

Under the law, a person commits access device fraud if he or she uses a credit card, debit card, automated teller machine card, plate, account number, personal identification number or other means of account access to obtain or attempt to obtain property or services; of if they publish, make, sell, give or transfer to another the means of account access knowing it is counterfeit, altered, incomplete, or belongs to another person.

Sounds to me like Pulcini just added major criminal problems to her financial situation. For the record, Pulcini retired November 30, 2012 from the T/E School District. Here’s a question, I wonder if this arrest will affect her retirement benefits (healthcare and pension).

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  1. Her retirement benefits come from the state – PSERS. To my knowledge, the district has no open issues with TENIG retirees. Health care benefits are not part of that package. Pension is accrued and likely is not affected by something post-retirement like this arrest. But it’s an interesting question.

  2. Article says she worked there 4 1/2 years….unless she worked elsewehre as a state employee, she wasn’t even vested….
    The bigger scandal is the Radnor police officer who “mishandled” guns turned into the police and has been allowed to quietly retire — benefits and pension.

  3. I read that the woman made restitution to TESD for the stolen gas. But she got away with it for a year and the matter only came to light after she retired. Who is responsible for overseeing employee use of credit cards, business manager?

  4. I agree with Troubled ..not excusing the person who committed the crime.. but how did this happen ? . ..With all the scrutiny of expenses monthly finiancial reports ,yearly audits and the constant threats of outsourcing how do you miss an increase of $8000 ? Plus it went on for ayear.
    This is taxpayer money and the person responsible for overseeing this should be held accountable also.

  5. No excuses, but in $100,000,000 expenditures, $8,000 in fuel charges don’t exactly jump out. I think it’s great that they caught it at all…and I’m sure supervisory sign-offs will be augmented going forward. This wasn’t police work — this was internal audits clearly.

  6. I’m disappointed that this took as long as a year to come to light. (But the good news is, it was discovered, of course). The district should institute a thorough review of the way it manages credit cards. Who gets them? How is the monthly bill reviewed? By whom? Looking for what patterns?

    There should be very few employees with such a card. The Transportation Manager? Really? It should be very rare that the Purchase Order process can be circumvented, and only for powerful efficiency reasons

    This is a basic control item and it needs to be stepped up.

  7. Stealing is a lot easier than people admit. Being honest is a fundamental expectation of the process. I agree Ray that this should not happen, and I will assume it did because the person who reviews the monthly bills might well have been the Transportation manager….but I concur that better controls should be in place.
    The problem is that in this economy, we cannot presume people are honest. Many years ago, a district PTO found theft in their midst…and no one would prosecute or turn the woman in. How many little league scandals have we read about? Trust but verify is no longer applicable. Verify. No one should have a credit card, from the Superintendent to the bus driver. Everyone should have to submit for reimbursement. If an advance is required, then it should have paperwork to request it, and confirming documents to close the case. The “business” office has more than the business manager. Someone needs to stay on top of this.

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