Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sheriff lieutenant resigns amid theft accusation

Donald Lasoski acknowledged taking $375 from transportation fund for ‘personal reasons’

September 03. 2013 11:59PM

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A 14-year Luzerne County employee recently promoted to sheriff lieutenant abruptly resigned last week after he took $375 from his office.

The employee, Donald Lasoski, acknowledged Tuesday he took the money with plans to repay it before anyone noticed. He said he worked hard in his county position and needed cash for a “personal issue.” He said he regrets his decision.

Three well-placed sources said Lasoski indicated he is struggling with a gambling problem.

Lasoski, of Wilkes-Barre, said he agreed to resign and has repaid the county in full. He said he won’t be collecting unemployment because he has other employment.

County officials reported the incident to the county District Attorney’s Office, though it’s still unclear if the office will file charges.

Kingston resident Brian Shiner, a citizen watchdog, said Tuesday he visited the District Attorney’s Office and the Wilkes-Barre Police Department on Tuesday to encourage them to file charges. Shiner said employees caught taking money should be terminated and not be permitted to resign.

“It can’t be swept under the carpet. We’re not going to tolerate this any longer,” Shiner said.

County Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri confirmed there was a theft and that Lasoski resigned but would not verify the two were related, citing personnel confidentiality.

Pedri told council in an email the $375 was discovered missing from the prisoner transport fund during a routine review by an employee in the office. The fund typically carries a balance of $750 to cover tolls, gas and other miscellaneous expenses for deputies who must transport prisoners.

When the theft was confirmed, Interim Sheriff John Robshaw immediately reported the matter to the District Attorney’s Office and also alerted Pedri, Judicial Services and Records Division Head Joan Hoggarth and Human Resources Director Andrew Check, Pedri said.

“We confronted the individual who admitted to possessing these funds in my office. This individual then offered an immediate resignation from the sheriff’s department. It was explained to this individual that any resignation would be in lieu of termination, which was agreed to,” Pedri said.

He said county officials swiftly addressed the issue.

“The entire matter was completed on the county’s side in a matter of hours. The matter was flushed out, immediately reported to law enforcement, immediately reviewed by the proper individuals within county government and appropriately handled. In short, it was exactly the type of response the citizens of Luzerne County need and are entitled to,” Pedri told council.

Lasoski was paid $35,550 annually in the county position. He was among three sheriff deputies promoted to lieutenant in April as part of Robshaw’s plan to create a command structure in the office. The lieutenants received $4,000 raises and had to leave the union to accept the management posts.

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