Prosecutors detail case against former Harrisburg mayor

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 14, 2015 3:03 PM

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania state prosecutors on Monday unveiled details of the corruption case against Stephen Reed, the long-time former Harrisburg mayor charged with using city money from bond sales to buy thousands of artifacts.

In laying out the nearly 500 counts of theft and other charges, special agent Craig LeCadre said on the stand that investigators recovered 16,000 items in a storage facility and at Reed's home. Both places were crammed full to the ceiling with artifacts such as a $14,000 suit of Spanish armor and a $2,500 knife carried at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, he noted.

"It was like (the television show) 'Hoarders,' on steroids," said LeCadre, chief investigator of Reed's case for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.

At the preliminary hearing in the Dauphin County Courthouse, prosecutors must show Magisterial District Justice Richard Cashman that they have enough evidence to support their charges moving forward to the trial phase.

Reed, 65, ended his 28-year tenure in 2010 with the state capital near financial ruin. He was charged in July on 499 criminal counts, though prosecutors reduced those counts to 487 on Monday.

Reed's defense attorneys have asked the court to throw out 338 counts, arguing they are barred by the statute of limitations. That hearing would proceed at a later date if the case continues.

The allegations stretch over a quarter century to numerous public agencies that Reed touched, including the parking authority, school district, civic baseball club and a local university.

Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy in 2011 just after Reed's tenure ended. However, the case was thrown out and the city put into receivership, which it exited last year. It is still under state financial oversight.

Prosecutors have said Reed is largely to blame for the city's financial woes. On Monday, they showed more than 30 slides of individual artifacts that were supposed to belong to the city but were in Reed's possession. He previously claimed some were destined for a Wild West Museum, which was never built.

Prosecutors also showed documents that followed the money, from bond issues through city authorities to a so-called "special projects fund," which Reed used to pay artifact vendors.

(Reporting by David DeKok in Harrisburg; Writing by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)