If your mayor says he or she wants to open a big museum and starts buying all this stuff to display in it, and you're like, "Where are they getting all this money to buy this," the answer might be that he used your tax dollars. Illegally.
That's what the former mayor of Harrisburg, Pa., Stephen Reed (D), was accused of doing Tuesday. Reed, who served as mayor from 1981 to 2010, is facing 499 (!) criminal charges and is accused of using public money allotted for things like a incinerator renovation and schools to buy old guns and antiques.
According to public records, "Reed improperly retained possession of a massive collection of city property at the expense of the city" and sought to "build a city which was a monument to him and not administered for the common good."
The Pennsylvania attorney general (who herself was accused of an illegal leak and lying under oath, according to an April grand jury report) called it "one of the most disturbing cases of public corruption" her office had ever seen.
Here are his charges, all 499 of them:
Reed planned to open a Wild West museum -- which is interesting since Harrisburg isn't in the West -- as well as additional museums. He bought items for the museums over the course of 15 years, but the idea was eventually abandoned, and in 2013, the city sought to sell 8,000 artifacts, at a loss.
Public records list the items Reed is accused of purchasing. The documents list things like newspapers from other cities, a Ford's Theatre Bill from the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, a "Billy The Kid" poster and a Confederate bowie. It also listed a vampire hunter's set and tombstone epitaph.
Harrisburg is already home to two museums, the National Civil War Museum and National Fire Museum. But on Wednesday, current Mayor Eric Papenfuse (D) called the Civil War museum "a monument to corruption" and said in an interview with Penn Live that its assets should be sold off to pay city debt and the building should be re-purposed.
The editorial for Penn Live called the charges "a textbook lesson in what happens when one man, answerable to almost no one, stays in power for entirely too long."