November 21, 2006
Attorney General Corbett announces criminal charges against former state official accused of conflict of interest and other ethics violations
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that agents from the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit have filed criminal charges against a former state official accused of using the authority of his state position for his own personal financial gain.
Corbett identified the defendant as Steven J. Fiorello, 59, 113 Darlene Drive, Palmyra.
Corbett said that between 1998 and 2003 Fiorello was employed as the Director of Pharmacy for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Office of Mental Health, Substance and Abuse Services. As part of his responsibilities, Fiorello served on a committee that decided which drugs would be used for mental health treatment in all state hospitals - decisions which guided more than $9 million in annual drug purchases by the Commonwealth.
Corbett said that according to the criminal charges, while Fiorello was helping to guide the purchase of various drugs by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), he was also paid more than $12,000 by drug companies for appearances, speeches and presentations, as well as service on a drug company advisory board. Additionally, Fiorello allegedly used his state position to obtain payment from Duquesne University for supervising pharmacy interns who were assigned to DPW.
The criminal charges state that Fiorello failed to disclose the payments from drug companies and other organizations on his annual Statement of Financial Interest. All state officials and employees are required to report all sources of income in excess of $1,300 on their annual financial statements. Additionally, all state officials are specifically prevented from accepting any form of honorarium or payment for speaking engagements.
"Pennsylvania law very clearly prohibits state officials from using their public positions for personal financial gain," Corbett said. "Accepting illegal payments and then failing to report them is not only a conflict of interest, but also a violation of the public trust."
Fiorello is charged with two counts of conflict of interest (restricted activities), a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He is also charged with one count of accepting honorarium and one count of failing to disclose income on annual Statements of Financial Interest, both misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The charges were filed today before Harrisburg Magisterial District Judge Raymond F. Shugars. The case will be prosecuted in Dauphin County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach of the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit.
The case was referred to the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit by the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission in April 2005, after the commission determined that Fiorello had violated the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act and ordered him to reimburse the Commonwealth and pay damages for various violations.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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