Welsh, McKinney charged with theft

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro Tuesday filed charges against former Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh and former deputy Harry McKinney with misuse of funds. The two were released without bail pending a preliminary hearing on Dec. 18 in the county courthouse.

According to a statement Shapiro released to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Bunny Welsh used her position of power for her and her partner Harry McKinney's own personal gain instead of serving her community as she was elected to do."

Former Sheriff Carolyn Welsh

McKinney and Welsh, who are live-in lovers, were arraigned on theft charges and diversion of services. Charges against Welsh, 76, allege the former sheriff allowed employees to collect comp time for volunteering their time during fundraising events for the Sheriff Department's K-9 unit. McKinney faces the same charge and also for using K-9 Unit money for his personal use.

Former deputy Harry McKinney

"Welsh and McKinney allegedly used public employees to perform work for private charity events both on and off-duty at the expense of Chester County, and McKinney then used those fundraised dollars to cover his own personal expenses," Shapiro said.

Welsh's attorney, Geoffrey Richard Johnson, has not yet responded to a request for comment on the matter. However, Robert Donatoni representing McKinney, said, "It's unfortunate that good people get caught up in situations like this. The charges are misdemeanors, not to minimize this, but it could be worse."

Chester County Controller Margaret Reif had been making inquiries into the alleged misuse of funds for two years. Last year, Reif filed a suit against Welsh for overtime payments to McKinney.

As reported in July of 2019, Reif said McKinney was paid $67,335 in overtime from January 2016 through December 2018, even though he was supposedly exempt from receiving overtime pay. Reif said McKinney was listed as an entry-level employee for payroll purposes, which would qualify him for overtime, but he also had administrative duties as head of the K-9 unit, which disqualifies him for overtime pay. In all, Reif's audit expressed concern over how $200,000 was collected and used.

In response to that 2019 report, Welsh said, "For the second time in less than a year, the controller is making unfounded accusations, relying on numbers and information that she didn't bother to verify. There was no abuse of overtime by anyone, and at the appropriate time, we will respond to each of her baseless allegations." She added that Reif was politically motivated.

Welsh served as sheriff for 20 years. She and McKinney began living together in 2003, according to reports.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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