PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When we last saw Matt Hogue, he was in court facing charges of lying to police and the theft of city property, accused of buying chainsaws and other equipment with city money and selling them for personal gain.
His arrest in May was of particular concern to the Rev. Christopher Mays of New Life Church in the West End who had purchased a vacant lot from Hogue only two weeks before.
“This is a great concern to us,” Mays said.
The lot had been owned by the now-defunct West End Elliot Community Group and Hogue told the church he was the last remaining officer of the group and authorized to sell it.
“We were acting in good faith and we found out after the sale that he may or may not been authorized to do this,” Mays said.
Hogue sold the lot to the church for $3,000 plus back taxes. Now, the question is was it is his to sell and what happened to that money?
Now that this sale has come to light, it’s being investigating by both the Pittsburgh police and City Controller Michael Lamb who has questions of his own.
“There’s nothing to indicate he was ever properly installed as an officer of the organization,” Lamb said. “And secondly, if the sale did occur which we know one sale occurred, where’s the money?”
“Well, we know that it hasn’t been transferred to any of the other community organizations,” he added.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan went to Hogue’s house and no one came to the door. He did reach him later on the phone and he told him he kept the money — $5,200 in all. He said it was owed him for expenses he incurred in shutting down the community group.
Meanwhile, the church had plans of improving the lot for outreach and community events, but now those plans are on hold.
“We don’t know if we have the legal authority or standing to do that yet,” Mays said.
Hogue tells me he’ll make restitution to the city for the sale of the chainsaws but whether he owes other people for the sale of these lots is yet to be determined.