By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Agents from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office on Tuesday raided the home of Stephen Reed, former mayor of financially strapped Harrisburg, and carted away antiques and boxes.
A search warrant was served on the home in an investigation tied to a secret grand jury proceeding, Reed's lawyer, Allen Welch, told Reuters.
Photographs published on the website of WHTM ABC 27 in Harrisburg, which first reported the story, showed agents carrying a spinning wheel, a scythe, and packages from Reed’s home in the state’s capital.
"They tell me it will take another day or two to get through. That's absolutely all I know. I have a gag order in place for anything from the grand jury," Welch said.
Reed, who was mayor from 1982 to 2010, has been dogged by rumors of personal financial improprieties in office, including the use of public money to purchase antiques for his home, which he has denied.
For the past two years, judicial sources told Reuters, a state grand jury has been meeting in Pittsburgh to explore alleged financial misdeeds that in 2011 led to the financial downfall of Harrisburg, which is currently in state receivership.
The financial crisis has been tied to $300 million in public debt that was accumulated during an ill-fated retrofit of the city trash incinerator.
“I can neither confirm, deny, or otherwise comment,” said Chuck Ardo, press secretary for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
While in office, Reed openly used public money to purchase artifacts for his pet projects, including the National Civil War Museum, which was built, and the so-called “Wild West Museum” of the American westward expansion, which was not.
Reed often traveled to the American Southwest to purchase artifacts, including such things as the dental chair of Doc Holliday, the dentist-gunfighter and friend of Wyatt Earp.
Harrisburg, a city of 50,000, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2011, and when that was blocked in court, entered the state receivership program for municipalities known as Act 47.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Mohammad Zargham)