Inspector General Amy L. Kurland awarded the City of Philadelphia’s third annual Integrity Award to Ann Agnes Pasquariello, Divisional Deputy Solicitor, for her work in recovering more than $270,000 from businesses that paid for business licenses and construction permits with bad checks.
“I want to congratulate Ann Pasquariello on receiving the Integrity Award for her dedicated service and her aggressive campaign to recover money owed to the City from bounced checks, in addition to her daily duties,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Ann saw businesses taking advantage of the City and was determined to enforce the City’s rules and fees for business permits and licenses. Her commitment is an excellent example of going above the call of duty and supporting ethics and good government.”
An Office of the Inspector General report released in 2013 found that the City had accepted more than $500,000 in bounced checks over the course of a year. The report pinpointed poor communication between different City departments as hurting efforts to collect on these debts.
After the report was released, Pasquariello implemented its recommendation and launched an aggressive enforcement campaign targeting business owners who have bounced a high number of checks over a long period of time. She worked closely with the OIG, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Licenses and Inspections, which issue business permits, in her collection effort.
As a part of her collection efforts, Pasquariello pushed businesses to enter into payment agreements for the bounced checks with the City. In total, 17 businesses have signed payment agreements and recovered more than $270,000 from 14 businesses. Additionally, the City also revoked the licenses and permits of businesses that refused to cooperate with the City’s collection efforts or violated their payment agreements in four cases.
In one enforcement action, a business that had bounced more than 200 checks for permits and licenses repaid more than $100,000 to the City.
“Ann took our report and ran with it,” said Inspector General Kurland. “Ann’s work ensures that businesses can’t take advantage of the City and essentially get these permits for free.”
Ann Pasquariello added, “I’m grateful for the honor the OIG has bestowed on me. I think our work has sent a strong message to the business community that bouncing checks to the City can’t be a part of the way anyone does business.”
The Integrity Award is presented each year to recognize a City employee who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to foster ethics and good government in Philadelphia by the Office of the Inspector General. Pasquariello was presented with the award during the Integrity Officers swearing-in ceremony April 3rd. Integrity officers take on this work in addition to their other responsibilities in their departments.
As part of the ceremony, Inspector General Kurland also honored the work of Frank Leo, Streets Department Sanitation Program Administrator. Leo is the City’s longest-serving integrity officer, holding the position since the OIG was founded in 1984.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to promote ethics and good government at the Streets Department, and I’m honored for this recognition,” Leo said. “I’m honored for this recognition.”