State investigates Steelton use of police chief, borough manager as codes enforcement officers

STEELTON, Pa. (WHTM) – An office building is going up rapidly in Steelton. The framing is done and the roof will soon be set.

A tower has been erected on the Steel-High football field.

Construction projects are happening in the borough.

Which is raising questions. They require approvals from a codes enforcement officer, which Steelton has been without from April until just this week, when a new codes officer took over the job.

abc27 has obtained building permits signed, during the three-month gap, by John King on the line for Code Enforcement Officer. John King is Steelton’s Police Chief.

Borough Manager Sara Gellatly has also signed off on building projects, according to abc27 sources.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s website, neither King nor Gellatly are certified to act as codes officers. When asked for a comment about the Steelton situation, a spokeswoman for L&I said she could not comment because it’s part of an open investigation.

We visited Chief King at the police department but he refused to go on camera or answer questions. He did admit that he and Gellatly did “oversee the codes office.”

Gellatly was not in the office Friday afternoon and didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

Steelton Mayor Tom Acri also declined to go on camera but confirmed that King and Gellatly did sign off on, “smaller projects that didn’t require electrical or plumbing work.”

We asked a midstate police chief about King’s apparent impersonating of a codes officer. He requested anonymity but did say “I think that is a huge liability there. We, as police chiefs, are not educated or qualified to make those types of decisions.”

I spent an hour in the Borough building Friday afternoon. I asked a secretary in the codes office to review recent building permits. She told me I needed to go down the hall to the borough manager’s office.

The secretary in the borough manager’s office pointed me back to the codes office.

And so it goes in Steelton.

It’s the lastest in a string of bureaucratic blunders for the borough. In recent months the state’s investigated and found wrong-doing for falsifying water quality records. There have also been complaints about overcharging water customers and for a failure, by the Borough, to obey the state’s Open Records Law.

Steelton has been keeping state investigators busy on various fronts.

Again, a new codes enforcement officers reported for work in Steelton just this week.

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