Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-Harrisburg Mayor Accused of Corruption

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ex-Harrisburg Mayor Accused of Corruption

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG - During much of his 28 years as mayor of Pennsylvania's capital city, prosecutors said, Stephen Reed used money from the issuance of public debt to buy thousands of artifacts - including a $14,000 suit of armor and a $6,500 "vampire hunter's set" - supposedly intended for museums that were not built.

Mr. Reed, who was elected mayor in 1981 and held office through 2009, showed "an almost pathological preoccupation" with buying antiquities and collectibles, a statewide investigating grand jury concluded. The former mayor, 65, was charged Tuesday with nearly 500 criminal counts, including theft, bribery, involvement in a corrupt organization and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities.

Speaking at the Capitol, Attorney General Kathleen Kane described a pattern of municipal borrowing for particular purposes - such as the renovation of the city's debt-laden trash incinerator - from which Mr. Reed would divert money to buy objects and make payments to allies.

"He was arrested for his role as the mastermind in a pattern of corruption that spanned approximately 20 years," Ms. Kane said. "This scheme of serial issuance of public debt sent the city of Harrisburg, our commonwealth's capital, into massive debt, that sent the city into receivership and forced the sale of its assets."

The presentment of the grand jury describes a fixation by Mr. Reed on acquiring collectibles and curiosities. Investigators searching the former mayor's personal offices in Harrisburg found 12 rooms piled floor to ceiling with thousands of items belonging to the city, with one of those rooms arranged as a re-creation of Mr. Reed's mayoral office, according to the grand jury presentment.

Among the city-owned items prosecutors say they found in Mr. Reed's possession were a $750 Stetson hat, a $1,450 crossbow and a $14,900 playbill from Ford's Theatre on the night of the Lincoln assassination. In past years, the city has auctioned off items from a Wild West museum Mr. …

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