Former Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Official Sentenced to Over One Year in Prison for Fraud and Embezzlement
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Paul Dignam, 59, of Philadelphia, PA was sentenced to 13 months in prison, one year of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $3,500 fine by United States District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno for a scheme to defraud the City of Philadelphia of approximately $119,000 over the course of several years.
In November 2020, Paul Dignam pleaded guilty to mail fraud and embezzlement from a program receiving federal funds. At the time of the charged offenses, the defendant was a long-time employee of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (“PPR”) Department, serving most recently as the Regional Manager for the South Region. In this position, Dignam oversaw and managed the PPR programs and operations in this section of the city including activities for members of the community, fund-raising, general maintenance and supervision of personnel.
In 2011, Paul Dignam opened a bank account that purported to be for use by a recreation advisory council, a commonly used governance structure in PPR that exists to support local recreation centers and playgrounds by helping to raise funds, develop programs, and maintain play sites. Beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2019, the defendant allegedly misused this bank account by repeatedly writing checks on the account made payable to himself. He helped conceal this fraud by having bank statements mailed to his personal residence and having another individual act as a signatory on the account. The defendant then forged the other individual’s signature on the misappropriated checks and falsely noted in the memo line of the checks that they were “reimbursements” for expenses he incurred by making purchases on behalf of PPR. In sum, Paul Dignam wrote himself approximately 102 checks worth approximately $119,000.
Paul’s brother, Leo Dignam, 61, also of Philadelphia and formerly an Assistant Managing Director with the City of Philadelphia, also pleaded guilty in November 2020 to charges of wire fraud and embezzlement from a program receiving federal funds in connection with similar misuse of public money, and was sentenced last week to 15 months in prison.
“Just like his brother, the defendant abused the trust placed in him by his superiors and the citizens of Philadelphia, specifically supporters of Parks and Recreation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “Stealing money from a bank account meant to support programming and maintenance of facilities, some in desperate need of repair, is inexcusable – but now he has been held accountable.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Office of the Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Deputy United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen.