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LOCKPORT – The city plans to hire an independent attorney to investigate the alleged misuse of a city credit card for expenses pertaining to a golf tournament.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said Monday that the investigation centers on a unionized city employee.

“To protect the employee’s rights, I can’t disclose the name,” Ottaviano said.

Alderwoman Kathryn J. “Kitty” Fogle, R-3rd Ward, said the amount in question was $8,000.

Common Council President Anne E. McCaffrey, R-2nd Ward, emailed a notice to reporters and her colleagues Monday that the hiring of the investigator is going to be added to Wednesday’s agenda.

The City Clerk’s Office confirmed that the Council never authorized city participation in or sponsorship of any golf tournaments during 2013.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said questions about the expenses were raised internally. He said auditors from the State Comptroller’s Office, who issued a stinging report in December about the city’s poor financial record-keeping, didn’t find this situation.“No laws were broken. Nothing malicious was done,” Tucker said.

He said the city has only two credit cards. He keeps one and City Treasurer Michael E. White keeps the other, and anyone who needs it has to ask for the card.

Tucker said he couldn’t remember whether it was he or White who gave the employee the card. Tucker said the expenses were paid from a city-controlled trust fund. “We need to find out whether we could use it,” he said. “If we couldn’t, the fund will be reimbursed.”

Ottaviano said he’s been working on the case for about a week and advised the Council it needed to hire an outsider to look into it. He said if the outside attorney decides disciplinary action is needed, that attorney would draw up charges.

Ottaviano said the Council then would have to hire a hearing officer. The hearing officer decides if there is guilt and if so, recommends a punishment up to and including dismissal. However, it would be up to the Council to decide what penalty to carry out.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com