Leighton submitted only one expense report for mileage in 2013

Last updated: March 06. 2014 11:14PM - 3390 Views
By - jlynott@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — With the help of Mapquest, Mayor Tom Leighton followed the route to Lopez and the Red Rock Job Corps Center, the only trip he submitted a mileage expense report for last year.

The city reimbursed him $47.91 for traveling to speak at the graduation ceremony at the job training center in Sullivan County.

Compared to previous years the mayor cut back on his travel, according to the expense reports filed with city that were provided to The Times Leader last month through a Right to Know request.

In 2009 and 2010 he made 13 trips and drove more than 4,000 miles, receiving $2,228 in reimbursements, according to receipts previously obtained by the newspaper.

For the most recent review, the city provided a print-out listing “Office of the mayor travel expenses” that included a $782.63 debit on March 27, 2012, for “Hotel Mlg Diem Wash,” and a $327.49 debit on April 7, 2012, for “Mlg & Per Diem Philly.”

The request was made in light of the ongoing investigation by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office into the thousands of gallons of fuel missing from the city’s storage tanks between December 2011 and June 2012. The mayor, who admitted pumping gas into his personal vehicle to conduct city business, said he stopped using city fuel and planned to submit a from detailing his mileage on a monthly basis.

City spokeswoman Liza Prokop Wednesday said that, to her knowledge, the mayor “has not submitted mileage reports every month.”

The mayor did not respond to a phone message asking why he had not submitted any statements and whether he was saving the city money by not filing them.

The questions also were emailed to Prokop to forward to the mayor. She replied Wednesday, “The city has declined to comment further on this matter.”

Questions about the district attorney’s nearly 2-year-old investigation have come up at City Council meetings.

Councilman Tony George asked for an update from District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis. In January she wrote a letter to city attorney Tim Henry, saying the investigation is continuing, but could not provide details.

She noted the probe has been prolonged by the city’s “complete lack of policies, procedures, documentation, checks and balances, accounting and accountability regarding the use of gas by city employees and officials.”

George replied in writing and offered his assistance. He recently met with detectives assigned the case and said he was told that they are “working diligently.” He said he was told they interviewed more than 100 people, but the detectives would not say when they plan to wrap up the probe.

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