In the latest example of a trusted official in a tiny Western Pennsylvania community getting caught with her hand in the till, the former tax collector in a Washington County borough of 396 people has admitted to stealing from residents.

Erica Pinkney, 38, waived indictment last week in U.S. District Court and pleaded guilty to mail fraud in pilfering money from the borough of Marianna.

Pinkney had been the secretary there from September 2017 through September 2019 and tax collector from July 2018 to September 2019.

She was responsible for collecting taxes from residents and had control over the borough’s tax account at Northwest Savings Bank. As secretary, she was responsible for calculating what residents owed for water, sewage and garbage bills, collecting those payments and paying the borough’s bills.

Pinkney used borough credit cards to buy personal items, including food, clothes, a Nintendo Switch and parts for her car.

To pay toward the balance of the credit cards, Pinkney used the money that had been collected from residents for taxes, water and garbage bills.

U.S. District Judge W. Scott Hardy said he’d sentence Pinkney in January. She’s free until then.

Pinkney joins several other former officials who in recent years got caught ripping off their rural town neighbors.

Last year Tammy Laird went to federal prison for stealing from Corsica, Jefferson County, where she had been the secretary. She stole $306,000 from the borough, which at 316 people is even smaller than Marianna. The town had to double its taxes to cover the money Laird stole, and the mayor took out a personal loan to keep services running.

And earlier this year, former secretary and treasurer Linda Baun of Jackson Township, Mercer County — population 1,181 — went to federal prison for stealing $150,000 over eight years to buy various personal items, including silicone nipple covers.

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at

Torsten Ove

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at