Yesterday, November 12, 2016, marked the 23-month anniversary of the sealing of the 5th Presentment of Fayette County Grand Jury No. 2. -- an Order issued by Presiding Judge Steve P. Leskinen on December 12, 2014.

To view the docket sheet entry of the Order Presenting SEALED Grand Jury Fifth Presentment, see the top of Page 7 of 8 of the Fayette County Grand Jury No. 2 Docket Sheet.

For approximately thirteen months of the former administration of then-District Attorney Jack R. Heneks, Jr., and now for more than ten months of the current administration of Fayette County District Attorney Richard E. Bower, the 5th Presentment of Fayette County Grand Jury No. 2 has remained sealed.

In a previous post in this space we pondered the possible reasons for the dormancy of the 5th Presentment.

Other presentments from Fayette County Grand Jury No. 2 have been prosecuted and penalties have been meted out.  Juxtaposing the prosecutions of other presentments and the 23-month sealing of the 5th Presentment raises serious questions.  While a previous post in this space covered some of those questions, it bears reiteration that the most serious question is the one which regards equal justice under law.

When the Fayette County Grand Jury No.2 issued a presentment, by law, it had to also be approved by Presiding Judge Steve Leskinen.  Thus, presentments are not issued haphazardly.  For a presentment to issue against an individual, evidence must exist that points to a crime.  Moreover, as the district attorney leads the grand jury in its investigation and in the issuance of presentments, the district attorney usually follows the recommendations of a grand jury.  In fact, the case where a district attorney refuses to follow the recommendations of a grand jury is virtually unheard of.  Why would a district attorney urge a presentment to be issued only never to bring an indictment?

This leads us to the heart of the matter:  It is inherently unequal justice under law to prosecute individuals under other presentments while the individual named in the sealed (for 23 months!) 5th Presentment remains unnamed, unindicted, and unprosecuted.

Grand jury secrecy laws are in place to elicit testimony and to shield witnesses from threats; grand jury secrecy laws are not in place to shield district attorneys and judges from public scrutiny and accountability.

It's high time the public received some answers on why the 5th Presentment has remained sealed for 23 months and when it will be unsealed.

After 23 months, it's time for Fayette County Grand Jury Presiding Judge Steve P. Leskinen and Fayette County District Attorney Richard E. Bower to be held accountable to the public which paid for the grand jury and which has every right to know what is being done/what will be done with the sealed 5th Presentment of Fayette County Grand Jury No. 2.

Companion articles:

As Sealed 5th Presentment Approaches 11 Months, DA Heneks Refuses Comment 

The Heneks-Mahoney Grand Jury Connection 

The Prosecution of Walter "Deb" Wiltrout, the Non-Investigation of the 3rd Referral, and the Absence of a 9th Presentment 

Fayette County Grand Jury 5th Presentment Sealing Reaches 1 Year   

Republican Party Chair Issues Statement, Salvo

Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 by Pezzonovante in Labels: , , , ,

Today, Fayette County Republican Party Chairman David Show issued a statement on the Republican Party of Fayette County Facebook page in which he said he would not be giving any acknowledgment to the Uniontown Herald-Standard newspaper.

Show's statement reads as follows: 

Folks do not be looking for any response from me as the FCRC Chair in the Uniontown Herald Standard. I will not give any acknowledgement to a "Newspaper" with an agenda to harm the Republican party of this county. They continue to give credablity to a fake group of "Reagan republicans" that disguise themselves as republicans while working for, raising money for, and supporting Democrats and RINOs. Pure agenda and bias by local media designed to slow the progress of the True Fayette Republican Party.

This afternoon, in a discussion of Election 2016, WMBS 590 talk show hosts Russ Rhodes and Joe Salzone, accompanied by guest George Rattay, discussed the local Fayette County Republican Party's support for a congressional candidate other than the Republican candidate who appeared on the ballot.

The reference was to the support for candidate Art Halvorson, who challenged the Republican nominee, Bill Shuster, for the seat in the 9th Congressional District after narrowly losing to him in the 2016 Primary Election.  A write-in win on the Democrat ballot in the Primary Election provided Halvorson the option to run on the Democrat ballot in the General Election, which Halvorson did.

The radio discussion included a call by the hosts for an explanation from local Republican Party leadership (welcoming a call into the broadcast) and even a call for atonement.

Yesterday, according to unofficial numbers, incumbent Congressman Bill Shuster (R-9) handily defeated Art Halvorson (64.5% to 35.5%) for the seat in Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District.

Show hosts the Truth For America program on WMBS 590 AM on Thursdays at 3:15 P.M.

At the time of this post, there was no word on Show's social media outlets on whether he intended to address the criticisms and questions surrounding his support for Halvorson as chair of the local Republican Party.

Dowling Defeats Mahoney

Posted: by Pezzonovante in Labels: ,

In the race for the seat in the 51st Legislative District, political newcomer Matthew D. Dowling defeated incumbent Rep. Timothy S. Mahoney.

Unofficial election results (see interactive map) are as follows:

Fayette County (100% Reporting):

Mahoney:  10,148

Dowling:     9,989

Somerset County (100% Reporting):

Dowling:  3,282

Mahoney: 1,573

Unofficial Totals:

Dowling:  13,271

Mahoney: 11,721

Margin:     1,550

Mahoney "Open Records" Promise of Spending Accountability Remains Unfulfilled

Posted: Saturday, November 5, 2016 by Pezzonovante in Labels: , ,

In 2007, State Rep. Tim Mahoney was interviewed by PassOpenRecordsPA which uploaded a YouTube video on October 2, 2007.

Here is but one pertinent TubeChop of the video.

FS recommends viewing the video in its entirety.  See the full video here:  Tim Mahoney Interview 20071002.

Toward the end of the video Rep, Mahoney says, "People will know who is getting the dollar down to the last penny."

However, here in 2016, that promise remains unfulfilled.  Rep. Mahoney does not post actual expenditures online so that they may be compared to his snout-in-the-trough policy of taking the full $168.00/day per diem on top of his $85,339 annual salary, benefits, retirement, expense reimbursements, etc.

After more than nine years in office, maybe Rep. Tim Mahoney should take his own advice to be accountable for every penny.  After all, should not taxpayers know whether they funded his trip to Pittsburgh on 02/28/2008 to testify for the release of a twice-convicted, violent, drug felon on illegal possession of firearm charges?

Expenditures of particular note:

Pages 26 – 27:  An expenditure (in addition to the 02/26/2008 claims for $394.18 for Gas & Oil) of $63.30 for Gas & Oil (bottom of Page 26) on 02/28/2008 and another expenditure for $78.25 for Parking & Tolls on 02/28/2008 (second expenditure from the top of Page 27) that call into question whether state taxpayers funded Rep. Mahoney’s trip to Pittsburgh on 02/28/2008 to testify for the release of a twice-convicted, violent, drug felon on illegal possession of firearm charges.  See: here and Mahoney Witness at Detention Hearing.

Other salient points to note about the video are as follows:

  • Rep. Mahoney's bill did not pass; then-Sen. Dominic Pileggi's SB 1 became the new Open Records law.
  • E-mails are not defined as legislative records under the law; one cannot see legislative e-mails.
  • In the wake of the Pay Raise Scandal of 2005, a grassroots movement for openness of the Legislature caught fire. However, the Right-To-Know law (RTKL) carves out the Legislature and the Judiciary -- only 19 highly specific records are defined as legislative records under the law, and only financial records can be obtained from the Judiciary.
  • The presumption of openness does not apply to the Legislature.  For example, when one makes a record request to the Chief Clerk of the House (fox guarding the henhouse) -- not the Office of Open Records because the law sets up an entirely separate system for requests of Legislative records versus Commonwealth agency and Local agency records (appeals of which requests go through the Office of Open Records) -- there is no presumption the record is open.  The Chief Clerk first determines whether the record requested meets the definition of a legislative record.  If the Chief Clerk determines the record does not meet one of the 19 categories of legislative records, the request is denied.  Appeals of denials of requests for legislative records do not go through the Office of Open Records.  Akin to the internal records request process, the law establishes an internal appeals process (more foxes guarding the henhouse).  If denied on appeal, one must appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.  One can be sanctioned, if in the court's determination one has brought a frivolous appeal of a records request (i.e., more fox-guarding-henhouse barriers to transparency in state government).
The law, including 19 specific categories of legislative records, can be accessed here.

Brad Bumsted, formerly the PA Capitol reporter for the Tribune-Review, in one of his last columns for that publication -- Clearing the air in the state of corruption, TribLive, Sept. 10, 2016 -- called the current "Open Records" law a joke.  

As the law does not apply to the Legislature in the same manner that it applies to Commonwealth and Local agencies, Bumsted's assessment cannot be ignored.

Mahoney's Broken Soapbox, Part 2

Posted: Friday, November 4, 2016 by Pezzonovante in Labels: ,

In the early morning hours of May 5, 2015, federal authorities and other law enforcement agencies executed search warrants on 11 locations in Fayette County and neighboring counties.

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article written around the time of the indictment (January 19, 2016) included this assessment by the U.S.  Attorney David J. Hickton:  “U.S. Attorney David Hickton said in announcing the new case Thursday in Uniontown that federal agents and police have dismantled interconnected drug networks that have been “menacing neighborhoods and threatening the quality of life of the law-abiding citizens” of Fayette County.””  [Emphasis added.]

On October 6, 2016, Rodney Harris, Defendant 1 in the indictment, in a Change of Plea, withdrew his plea of not guilty entered on January 20, 2016, and pleaded guilty to Counts 1 and 2 in United States of America v. Rodney Harris – Case 2:16-cr-00004-DCS.

The indictment lays out the counts as follows:

Count 1:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute cocaine.  A felony.
Count 2:  Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute heroin.  A felony.

On October 7, 2016, the government filed a Motion For Preliminary Order of Forfeiture against Harris.  In its motion, the government sought forfeiture of all right, title and interest in the following property:

  • Approximately $194,593 in United States currency;
  • A .44 Magnum caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, bearing serial number M721348, and rounds of .44 Magnum caliber ammunition;
  • A 9mm caliber semiautomatic Glock pistol, bearing serial number GCA715, and rounds of 9mm caliber ammunition; and
  • An Uzi submachine gun.

On October 11, 2016, U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone granted the government’s motion in a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture.

Harris faces a sentencing hearing before the Honorable David Stewart Cercone on Monday, February 27, 2017, at 10:30 AM.

This is not Rodney Harris’ first brush with the law.

See:  3 Uniontown men charged in drug ring, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 29, 2003.

See also:  Authorities charge 13 in cocaine ring, Herald-Standard, October 30, 2003.

Fayette Searchlight has learned from a reliable, confidential source that 48 Connellsville Street, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was one of the locations targeted by the federal drug raids on May 5, 2015.

Property assessment records list the ownership as Rodney Harris et al.

Both a newspaper article on property transfers and a copy of the deed provide details of the January 9, 2013/$90,000.00 transfer of real property to Rodney Harris and Joseph J. Croftcheck, Sr., (Defendant 5 in the indictment).  The article and the copy of the deed list Timothy S. Mahoney as one of the primary counterparties.

At a recent forum, Rep. Timothy S. Mahoney (D-51) -- running on an Opioid Crisis platform -- was quoted as saying the following:  “We’ve lost this war with drugs this generation.  There’s just no doubt about it.”

With the above revelations, and with Rep. Tim Mahoney’s track record of poor judgment in representing the 51st Legislative District, is it any wonder?

In Mahoney's Broken Soap Box , this space pondered Rep. Tim Mahoney’s silence in the wake of the May 5 drug raids.
We think we now have the answer to our question.

Mahoney Expenditures Incurred Master File

Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 by Pezzonovante in Labels: , ,

The link below is to a master file of expenses incurred by State Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-51) between January 01, 2007 (the month he first took office) and February 12, 2013.

The file was obtained from the House of Representatives, Office of the Comptroller via a Right-To-Know law request made years ago.

That is the reason why the numbers only reach to February 2013.

Expenditures of particular note:

Pages 26 – 27:  An expenditure (in addition to the 02/26/2008 claims for $394.18 for Gas & Oil) of $63.30 for Gas & Oil (bottom of Page 26) on 02/28/2008 and another expenditure for $78.25 for Parking & Tolls on 02/28/2008 (second expenditure from the top of Page 27) that call into question whether state taxpayers funded Rep. Mahoney’s trip to Pittsburgh on 02/28/2008 to testify for the release of a twice-convicted, violent, drug felon on illegal possession of firearm charges.  See: here and Mahoney Witness at Detention Hearing.

Page 101:  Voucher Number 111380118, Printing-Other, 04/29/2011, $51.73.  Charge to taxpayers for printing of Rep. Mahoney's fatally flawed referendum petitions.  For confirmation the expenditure was for the referendum petitions, please see the expenditure of $51.73 near the bottom of Page 5 here.

Pages 103 – 107:  Eighteen Session Per Diems/Non Session Per Diems, of $160.00 during the purported circulation period of Mahoney's Referendum Petitions.  These 18 per diem claims place Rep. Tim Mahoney in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during his purported circulation period of June 1 – August 8, 2011, making it impossible that he was present before the circulating petitions, as required by PA Supreme Court case precedent for an affiant to sign petition Affidavits of Circulator lawfully.  These 18 per diem claims stand as testament that, on August 9, 2011, State Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-51) knowingly and willfully executed altered and falsely sworn Affidavits of Circulator before notaries public, which is punishable in Pennsylvania under perjury statutes, and which was covered extensively in this post from October 8.   

Page 120:  Three Committee Per Diem charges for 02/21/2012, 02/22/2012, and 02/23/2012, for $163.00, which place Rep. Mahoney in Harrisburg on the day (02/21/2012) records show him as the only person on the planet to retrieve both the Gary Gearing and Michael Cavanagh nominating petitions from the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation.

A $5,000 expenditure made by the Friends of Tim Mahoney campaign committee on 02/22/2012 -- the very day Attorney Ronald J. Brown of Grogan Graffam, P.C. finalized the petition challenges against Gearing and Cavanagh (Mahoney’s opponents in the 2012 Primary Election) -- precipitated multiple voucher requests and court actions.  The Friends of Tim Mahoney never produced the voucher for the $5,000 expenditure (see: FrofTMahoney Cycle2 2012, bottom of Page 13) to Grogan Graffam, P.C.  Instead, the Friends of Tim Mahoney and the PA Dept. of State fought tooth-and-nail in court against the release of the details of the expenditure.

Rep. Mahoney’s campaign committee’s actions/inaction led to the obliteration of the Voucher Request statute (i.e., the ability of persons to see the particulars of campaign committee expenditures in Pennsylvania), which FS covered extensively here and here.

Thus, the seminal “accomplishment” of State Rep. Tim Mahoney’s tenure in office is the destruction of campaign expenditure transparency for all persons who desire to make a request to see the particulars of campaign expenditures in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!

Gentle readers, feel free to search through the expenditures for yourselves.

Who knows what else one might turn up?