PA Ethics Commission finds Register/Recorder in violation

The Susquehanna County Courthouse was built in the Greek Revival style – one of the architectural styles prominent in the Montrose Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission has found that Susquehanna County Register/Recorder Michelle Estabrook violated the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act when she contracted with her daughter to perform an audit of the office’s books.

The commission’s final adjudication on the matter was posted on May 24. According to the report, the violation occurred “when Estabrook entered into a contract valued at $500 or more with her daughter on behalf of the County Register and Recorder’s Office without an open and public process, and when she had supervisory and/or overall responsibility for the implementation and/or administration of the contract.”

Another violation occurred when Estabrook authorized payments to her daughter by issuing and signing checks.

Estabrook has repaid the amount taken ($12,000) from the office’s Records Improvement fund.

County row officers – including the commissioners, Sheriff Lance Benedict, Prothonotary Jan Krupinkski, and Acting Treasurer Rebecca Wescott – and Chief Clerk Rebekah Hubbard were present at a Records Improvement meeting held May 25.

According to minutes from that meeting a discussion was held regarding the current balance in the Records Improvement Fund and the invoices earmarked to be paid from the fund. It is noted that to date no deposits have been made to the account for 2022.

Hubbard was authorized to write a letter to Estabrook, inquiring about the lack of deposits as required. In addition, the Board is asking for the Register and Recorder’s office to have representation at each of the meetings of the Records Improvement Board. The Board is requiring Estabrook to respond to the letter within seven days.

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