Theft case against former SEA controller advances after she waives hearing

September 12, 2019
Paula Reed Ward
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former controller for the Sports and Exhibition Authority on Wednesday waived her preliminary hearing on charges she stole more than $300,000 from a previous employer and now faces trial in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Sharon Mink, 43, of Plum, faces charges of theft, receiving stolen property and forgery.

Originally charged with nine counts of forgery, eight of those were withdrawn by the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.

“Nothing has changed with the case,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for the DA’s office. “We made the decision that the number of forgery charges were duplicative, and we can move forward putting all nine of the checks mentioned in the affidavit under one charge of forgery.”

Ms. Mink is accused of misappropriating nearly $320,000 from 2013 to 2017 from Research Underwriters, a Forest Hills specialty insurance broker.

Investigators said she used that money to cover her own personal expenses and paid for vacations with it.

Defense attorney Phil DiLucente said his client waived her preliminary hearing because it’s difficult to challenge allegations of financial wrongdoing in that forum.

“We look forward to seeing the evidence that goes to the underlying charges,” he said Thursday.

Ms. Mink was terminated from her position with the SEA shortly after the charges were filed against her, and an internal review was launched “to confirm that our financial processes and internal controls performed as intended and were not compromised,” Executive Director Mary Conturo said in August.

A suspect $21,000 transaction at the SEA during Ms. Mink’s tenure was discovered and is still under review by the DA’s office, but no charges have been filed related to it, Mr. Manko said.

Mr. DiLucente is confident none will be forthcoming.

“We are led to believe that there is not a scintilla of evidence that would tie her to this SEA missing money — if it even is missing,” Mr. DiLucente said. “Was it an error an employee makes? Was it truly even her that made this transfer? Is there any proof it ended up in my client’s bank account?

“It’s building on a base of hearsay and accusations without the facts coming out.”