Thursday, December 17, 2009


Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's investigation continues to stumble into serious ethical and, most likely, illegal territory.

In September of 2008 while Stetler was under an active investigation by Corbett's vaunted "professional" investigators, he received a campaign solicitation from Corbett's campaign.

Here is Stetler's attorney brandishing the letter following yesterday's arraignment of the latest bonusgate indictees:

However, this isn't the complete story. In July of 2008, Corbett allowed Stetler to ignore a grand jury subpoena (Pittsburgh Tribune Review 5/2/09)

It is quite possible that Corbett let Stetler off the hook for the failed grand jury appearance, then provided Stetler a subtle avenue to express some appreciation that Stetler failed to recognize consequently resulting in his being indicted. After all, Stetler never did contribute to Corbett in 2008.

Far-fetched? We would agree except this isn't the only instance of a spurned quid pro quo resulting in an indictment by Corbett.

Last month, Chris Brennan with the Philadelphia Daily News reported how Corbett, while actively investigating John Perzel, had a cozy meeting with Perzel where Corbett's campaign was discussed. (Daily News 11/12/09)

Many folks who are privy to the what was really discussed in this meeting say Perzel remained uncommitted (at best) to a Corbett gubernatorial bid. And -- surprise, surprise -- two weeks later Corbett launches into the investigation that results in Perzel's arrest. (Associated Press 10/23/07)

This is a shocking and troubling pattern from Corbett. It should give his "professional investigators" pause. Certainly, the news that Corbett and his campaign manager, Brian Nutt, met with Perzel while an active investigation was under way should raise serious red flags with the top two "professional" investigators, Frank Fina and Jim Reeder.

Rather, Reeder's response to the troubling revelation that Corbett was soliciting campaign contributions from a major target of Reeder's own investigative efforts was an arrogant, non-chalant answer:
"Reeder said the letter was probably authentic...'I don't know, I'm not part of Mr. Corbett's campaign. It surprises me that the response of defense counsel is not what this guy did, but look over here, look over here, here's something shiny...And if Mr. Lock thinks he can distract the jury with something shiny, well, so be it.'" (York Daily Record 12/16/09)
We're not really surprised by Reeder's response. He is after all one of Corbett's "professional investigators" who let Corbett's staunch political ally, York County DA Stan Rebert, walk away unharmed from very potent and well-documented ethical misconduct charges.

Oh, and Reeder worked in Rebert's office while all this illegal activity was occuring. We wonder how much campaign work Reeder did on the York County taxpayer's dime.

Shiny? Not quite. That fundraising letter isn't a shiny distraction, rather it is a dirty, smarmy, stinking smear on the validity and ethics of Corbett's investigation.


Anonymous said...

It is certainly conceivable that the Corbett campaign was soliciting all executive personnel of the Pennsylvania Economy League, and that the Stetler solicitation was just part of that pattern.

But this deserves to be investigated. The possible link between Stetler's failure to contribute and Corbett's decision to indict him suggests a possible violation of due process of law which should be subject to federal redress.

Gene Stilp got a remedy in federal court for a fine that the Ethics Commission levied against him, and so should Corbett.

Anonymous said...

Q: "What do you make of this"

Stetler's Attorney "I don't make anything of it." (Translation, I want YOU to make something of it because I don't want to get sued or sanctioned for making irresponsible claims)

Seriously, if Corbett's campaign DID know who was being investigated, then THAT would be a problem.

Q: "What was your client directed to do to turn themselves in?"

Stetler's Attorney: "I don't really remember."
Translation: We were told to show up at the police station to be arrested and cuffed and decided to ignore those directions. We tried to show up a few hours ahead of time to be processed early so that we could avoid being in the press at all. But I'm going to imply that the AG orchestrated it.

Anonymous said...

It's not exactly a secret that Stetler was running the campaign committee during the period Corbett was/is/will be unti the end if time investigating. There's no way his campaign didn't know. This is super-creepy.

Anonymous said...

WHAT?!?!? Are you guys serious??? I'm a fan of this blog, but this latest post is a stretch. It borders somewhere between absurd and ridiculous. Why would Corbett go through all that trouble for what would amount to a relatively small contribution? It's not like Corbett's campaign is finding it difficult to raise cash. Is your conspiracy theory plausible....I suppose. However, it seems far too great a risk considering the small reward. Next you are going to accuse the AG's office of fabricating the evidence. At least the accusation will make excellent fodder for your next post ;)

Anonymous said...

If The Soul Is Darkened,
By A Fear It Cannot Name,
If The Mind Is Baffled,
When The Rules Don't Fit The Game,
Point At Others
So They Will Get The Blame,
Always Look At The One
Prowling For Power
That Is His Aim For Gain!

The primary function of the modern grand jury in Pensylvania is to review the evidence presented by the prosecutor and determine whether there is probable cause to return an indictment.

The original purpose of the grand jury was to act as a buffer between the king (and his prosecutors) and the citizens to provide a safeguard.

Today, most Legal Scholars argue that in America this safeguarding role has been erased, and the grand jury simply acts as a rubber stamp for the Prosecutor.

Since the role of the grand jury is only to determine probable cause, there is no need for the jury to hear all the evidence, or even conflicting evidence.

It is left to the good faith of the prosecutor to present conflicting evidence.

The courts have ruled that the grand jury has extraordinary investigative powers that have been developed over the years since the 1950s.

This wide, sweeping, almost unrestricted power is the cause of much of the criticism.

The power is virtually in complete control of the prosecutor, and is pretty much left to his or her good faith.

Due to past abuse of powers by ambitious Prosecutors only about half the states now use grand juries.

The grand jury hears only cases brought to it by the prosecutor.

The prosecutor decides which witnesses to call.

The prosecutor decides which witnesses will receive immunity.

The basic questioning is done by the prosecutor on a theory he or she articulates.

The grand jury members are generally permitted to ask questions at the end of a witness's testimony.

The prosecutor generally decides if he or she has enough evidence to seek an indictment.

Occasionally the grand jurors may be asked whether they would like to hear any additional witnesses, but since their job is only to judge what the prosecutor has produced, they rarely ask to do so.

The prosecutor drafts the charges and reads them to the grand jury.

There is no requirement that the grand jury be read any instructions on the law, and such instructions are rarely given.

Brian Nutt, Corbett Chief of Staff, was Corbett Campaign Manager.

Although Nutt claims he went on unpaid leave from his state job to manage Corbett’s campaign in his race against Democrat John Morganelli.

There is clear and convincing evidence that Nutt also assisted at various political events for Corbett throughout his first term in office, state records prove it.

Nutt is one of several staffers who work closely with Corbett in the attorney general’s office and have done at least some political work for their boss during his first term, according to an analysis of campaign-finance records by the Lebanon Daily News.

Kevin Harley, the attorney general’s director of communications, has also helped the Corbett campaign, along with both of Corbett’s executive assistants and two top aides in his office of legislative affairs, records show.

Some of Corbett's staffers traveled to political events and were reimbursed for lodging and meals. This is verified on the record.

Some bought stamps or office supplies for the campaign. None of those staffers is accused of wrongdoing, and Harley said the Attorney General makes it clear to employees that all campaign work must be “completely separate” from
their jobs.

Hmmmnnn, DeWeese said the same thing but was indicted anyway????

Anonymous said...

These defenses of DeWeese are lacking in credibility. In fact, the truly incredible thing is that DeWeese has not been indicted on bonus charges even though he clearly knew about the bonus scheme, and obviously had authority to deal with that which almost none of the staffers indicted did.

Second, it is just beyond belief that DeWeese seems to indicate he is hurt that the AG would indicte him for essentially having a very long term ghost employee in his district office when he (DeWeese)had handed the AG the evidence to get LaGrotta on charges of, well, short term ghost employees. DeWeese never has said the charges are untrue, just that he was so good to the AG in implicating others that he doesn't think the AG should then go after him.

DeWeese's view appears to be that prosecutors should indemnify the boss because he can best implicate the underlings. In the real world it shouldn't work that way.

And DeWeese's final defense is that after living by the culture for thirty years, when he understood he had a pr and legal problem following the election after the payraise, he decided gto throw others under the bus and "change" things. Those changes never included firing most of the staffers that kept the bonus list, or did political work or raised funds on state time - just the minimum he could throw under the bus to get away without being charged. What a hypocrite.

No one deserves his just reward more than that egotistical, high living, disloyal jerk.

Anonymous said...

Bill DeWeese never saw a perk he didn't take, a lobbyist he didn't shake down, a free meal he didn't try to invite people to, a trip he wasn't going to go on or a staffer he didn't use for his own personal aggrandizement.

Finally the AG went after the boss who most abused the system and reaped the greatest personal rewards. That his most loyal staffers personally implicated in various presentments are still on the state payroll is a tribute to DeWeese's arrogance. If DeWeese doesn't participate in paying back the bonuses and all the legal advice he got on the state dime (isn't it curious - or even a conflict - that one of the lawyers the caucus paid not to defend DeWeese (lol) but for the caucus is now Bill's lawyer?

Anonymous said...

Can someone detail what happened to those staffers - like Steve Webb, Tom Andrews, Karen Steiner, Dan Widemer, Jon Price, Texter Cameron, Melissa Lewis, Rich Pronesti, and so many others that are deeply implicated in the corruption scandal? Are they all still on the state payroll; and if they are it'd be fascinating to see at what salaries, who they work for and what their bonuses were.

If DeWeese had cleaned things up, wouldn't he have fired those so deeply implicated asnd tried to have staff pay back ill gotten bonuses?

Anonymous said...

The comment about Walter Cohen is a good one.  It raises a bunch f questions.  Like, is it a conflict an unethical to represen the caucus for very good pay, and thn become the lawyer for a criminl defendan charged with an ethical conflict with the caucus?  Wasn't Walter Cohen privy to confidential informatio regarding various witnesses and the internl probe?Like,does Cohen's frm also represent (at caucus expense) some of the "young pople" DeWeese wa so concened about inthe investigation (maybe concerned about managing their testimony r at least monitoring it).And n't it strange that the caucus lawyers (Sloane and the grossly overpaid Chadwick) wound up working for DeWeese rather than the caucus? 

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the mainstream press cover the question of those legislative employees who have been implicated (by themselves!) through presentments or testimony. If the admit in testimony (grand jury or trial) that they knowingly participated in a felony, then in order to so-called "clean up" doesn't the caucus (this is equally true on the GOP side as the Dem) have to remove them?

It may b prosecutorial discretion to not charge them criminally, or to grant them immunity, but the Steve Webbs, Andrews and Bertugllis of this world are just as guilty. If you review the presentments and e mails there must be a hundred current staffers implicated.

They re lucky not to be charged, and to keep their pensions. But they surely don't hve any right to a job.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of conflcts - how about Bill Sloane?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... December 18, 2009 10:57 AM

Good point, Corbett is actually sponsoring these staffers he is using for testimony and using state money on state time of other branches of government.

Police in Pennsylvania once under investigation, are suspended, until the investigation is resolved.

Yet, in the case of Tom Corbett, he is sanctioning the use of Paid State Employees on State Time that the Grand Jury found did no work for the State, under the OAG guidance.

Now that is true irony, hypocrisy, and waste of Taxpayers money.

These Caucus Employees need o be suspended without pay pending the outcome of all investigations.

Quit wasting our tax dollars, if it was illegal for these employees to do no work on State Time, then it is illegal for the OAG to use them now.

Corbett is just putting on a pony show for his election with state dollars!

Anonymous said...

Look, here is what really happens, Corbett's Incompetent and Over Bloated OAG 800 Staffers were proven wrong on the Ramaley Presentments. The outright lies uncovered at Trial were Legal Malpractice. Even Judges all over the Commonwealth are laughing at the OAG Lawyers or should I say Legal Yearlings.

I mean Corbett's case was so lame the Jury laughed at it, and found Ramaley Not Guilty on all Counts in less than 2 hours. Heck, the Jurors just stayed out to make it look like they consider the case, they found Ramley NOT GUILTY in 3 Minutes.

So, Corbett to gain back the Headlines rushed these sloppy indictments with lies within them and these charges will be proven just as bad by a Judge or Jury.

Corbett thinks by the time they come to trial he will be in the governor mansion, but all that is going to happen is his staffers will end being investigated and this will dog him the rest of his career.

Corbett is just a Grocery Clerk for the Waste Management Inc. Mob!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..."Q: "What was your client directed to do to turn themselves in?"

Stetler's Attorney: "I don't really remember."
Translation: We were told to show up at the police station to be arrested and cuffed and decided to ignore those directions. We tried to show up a few hours ahead of time to be processed early so that we could avoid being in the press at all. But I'm going to imply that the AG orchestrated it.
December 17, 2009 8:09 PM"

Breaking News, The Office Of The Attorney General Has Indicted Deweese And Stetler For Not Wearing Handcuffs As Established By Attila The Hun Legal Procedures During The Sacking Of Europe In 434AD or CE.

Corbett Is Quoted "Look I Did Not Set This Standard For Fallen Cooperated Witnesses That Refused To Contribute To My Campaign.

We Are Just Following The Traditions Set Forth By Attila The Hun, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Dick Nixon, And My Chief Of My Campaign,

Uh, I Mean Chief Of Staff,

Uh, I Mean Campaign Chief,

No Wait, Lets See My Campaign Chief From 12:05 PM To 12:15 PM,

Chief Of Staff From 12:15 PM To 1:30 AM, Wait Let Me Call Jubelier On How He Did It,

We Once Campaign Together Over 30 Times On State Time, He Will Know Or His Staffers, My Staff Is Too Dumb, But His Was Good.

I Know I Did Not Investigate Jubelier And Now I Can Tell You In All Honesty I Found No Crimes On State Time. Trust Me!

He Works Nights You Know??? Or I Think??? Or Whatever???

All My 800 Employees Take Lessons In Reading Time, But Not Me.

I Am A Saint Mary's Law School Graduate, We Never Bother With Time Or Details, But We Recruit Good Liars For The Grand Jury.

Heck, We Never Took Tests Even, You Know I Speak The Truth, Because We Lost The Ramaley Trial.

Anonymous said...


1. The Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must resign if he so chooses to run for other elected offices so has to avoid the Appearance of Impropriety and Conflicts on Interests in carrying out his duties as an impartial Office of the Court.

2. All non-immunized subjects or targets called before a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury shall be given a Miranda warning by the prosecutor before being questioned.

3. No prosecutor shall knowingly fail to disclose to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury evidence in the prosecutor’s possession that exonerates the target or subject of the offense. Such disclosure obligations shall not include an obligation to disclose matters that affect credibility such as prior inconsistent statements or Giglio materials.

4. The prosecutor shall not present to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury evidence that he or she knows to be constitutionally inadmissible at trial because of a court ruling on the matter.

5. A target or subject of a grand jury investigation shall have the right to testify before the grand jury. Prosecutors shall notify such targets or subjects of their opportunity to testify, unless notification may result in flight, endanger other persons or obstruct justice, or unless the prosecutor is unable to notify said persons with reasonable diligence. A target or subject of the grand jury may also submit to the court, to be made available to the foreperson, an offer, in writing, to provide information or evidence to the grand jury.

6. Witnesses should have the right to receive a transcript of their Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury testimony.

7. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury shall not name a person in an indictment as an unindicted co-conspirator to a criminal conspiracy. Nothing herein shall prevent the prosecutor from supplying such names in a bill of particulars.

8. All subpoenas for witnesses called before a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury shall be issued at least 72 hours before the date of appearance, not to include weekends and holidays, unless good cause is shown for an exemption.

9. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jurors shall be given meaningful jury instructions, on the record, regarding their duties and powers as grand jurors, and the charges they are to consider. All instructions, recommendations, and commentary to grand jurors by the prosecution shall be recorded and shall be made available to the accused after an indictment, during pre-trial discovery, and the court shall have discretion to dismiss an indictment, with or without prejudice, in the event of prosecutorial impropriety reflected in the transcript.

10. No prosecutor shall call before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury any subject or target who has stated personally or through his Attorney that he intends to invoke the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.

11. A witness before the grand jury who has not received immunity shall have the right to be accompanied by counsel in his or her appearance before the grand jury. Such counsel shall be allowed to be present in the grand jury room only during the questioning of the witness and shall be allowed to advise the witness. Such counsel shall not be permitted to address the grand jurors, stop the proceedings, object to questions, stop the witness from answering a question, nor otherwise take an active part in proceedings before the grand jury. The court shall have the power to remove from the grand jury room, or otherwise sanction counsel for conduct inconsistent with this principle.

12. The Pennsylvania Auditor General shall be ordered to audit the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General when a Complaint to Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct has been approved for investigation.

We suggest we call them the Corbett-Krastek-Nifong Reforms!

Anonymous said...

Why Prosecutorial Misconduct and Abuses Are Taking Place So Brazenly

Prosecutorial misconduct and abuses are taking place in the United States with little fear by the prosecutors of being held accountable for their wrongdoing.

The reasons for this are understandable, but take some explanation.

Here is what seems to be happening:

The first thing to realize is that the tool of prosecutors is the grand jury, which operates in secret.

Actually, as you may know, the grand jury doesn't operate much at all, and is usually no more than a room filled with dozing, disinterested persons (called grand jurors) who go in and out of their room almost at will, waiting for one or more prosecutors to "present" their cases to the grand jury for their rubber-stamp approval, called an "indictment".

Generally, all of the grand jurors are not present when evidence is offered by the prosecutor to the grand jury, and one grand juror more than 50% constitutes a quorum.

The grand jury does not get to see all of the evidence obtained by the prosecutor.

Instead, the prosecutor selects what evidence he believes, as an advocate, is enough to justify asking for (and almost always getting) an indictment.

If the prosecutor has exculpatory evidence showing that the accused did not commit the crime, the prosecutor generally does not tell the grand jury about such evidence.

The Prosecutor is an Officer of the Courts, as with any attorney, and theoretically the prosecutor is responsible to the courts for what he/she does.

In our adversary legal system, the judges generally do nothing unless requested to act by one of the adversaries, but with a grand jury investigation there is no adversary for much of what takes place.

The defendant may not even be aware there is a grand jury proceeding, and even if he/she does know about it, the activities of the prosecution in issuing grand jury subpoenas, interviewing prospective witnesses, reviewing subpoenaed documents are usually done without anyone's knowledge except the prosecutor and the witness being subpoenaed.

So much for an adversary system in the criminal area.

The prosecutor's interest in the prosecution is to win, and for the unscrupulous, unethical prosecutor to win regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

The prosecutor's career path could be injured by failing to win, showing the lack of skill as a prosecutor for a lost criminal case, or poor professional judgment in obtaining an indictment which later was dismissed.

The prosecutor's career path is enhanced by being, and being known as as "winner", which enables the prosecutor to get more visible cases, and to obtain higher position and compensation in the prosecutor's office.

Also, the career path for the successful prosecutor, as we have seen from the past, can go right up to the White House or to the position as Attorney General or as a federal judge at any of the 3 levels District Court, Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

The loss of a criminal case once commenced through obtaining an indictment can cause a major reversal in a prosecutor's planned career, and with such pressure to succeed, what difference the prosecutor argues to himself does it make if the prosecutor cuts a few corners here and there.

The defendant is probably guilty, of something, if not the crime for which he/she has been indicted.


Anonymous said...

In an economy which is becoming more concentrated, with big business and government becoming larger all the time, the economic opportunities for the prosecutor may appear to be dwindling in the private sector, whereas with government growth his/her prospects are steadily increasing, as long as the prosecutor wins.

A prosecutor wants publicity, and so does the prosecutor's superiors and political masters.

If one of the major news media target someone for criminal prosecution, the prosecutor's superior will jump at the chance, because there is a guarantee of publicity at least by the news medium which indicated its desire to have the person indicted and convicted for whatever reasons the medium put together for sale as soft news to the public.

When the prosecutor responds to the announced wishes of the major media, the prosecutor is rewarded with favorable publicity.

But when the prosecutor fails to do the medium's bidding, the prosecutor can expect to receive little or no publicity, which will put the prosecutor's career in a terminal, downward tailspin.

Judges are there to protect the public from oppression, but the prosecutorial oppression occurs without any adversary, and any efforts to expose combat prosecutorial oppression can be expected to result in even more oppression, more prejudicial, illegal activity, a greater chance for conviction, and a longer sentence.

Judges often favor prosecutors because many judges were prosecutors and were appointed judges for that reason.

Prosecutors in effect are judges-to-be, or judicial descendants, and treated as such by current judges, to the extreme prejudice of defendants who are being prosecuted through unlawful, unconstitutional and oppressive tactics.

It must be pointed out that not all prosecutors fall within the bad category, and obviously that most judges would not even see that the decisions they make enforcing prosecutorial misconduct were bad decisions.

A good guide is if the Prosecutors can win the case that was brought forth from Grand Jury he guided.

If he loses, it is likely proof he mishandled the Grand Jury.

If he loses more than one case he needs to be investigated for abuse and conduct not within the code of being an attorney.

After all, many people working in the criminal justice system "know" that a person is not indicted unless he/she is guilty, especially when reading the reports from the media which caused the indictment in the first place.

It's something similar to reading a judge's decision for anyone except the involved parties and their attorneys.

Almost every decision is written in a way to convince persons unfamiliar with the case that the decision is a just one.

Accordingly, when a judge says something such as "there is absolutely no evidence at all in favor of the plaintiff", a person not familiar with the affidavits, testimony, exhibits and other documents in the case would probably assume that the decision is accurate, and not realize that the decision is using the language required to be used to dismiss a case.

Anyway, judges are not immune from societal pressures.

Judges would like to be appointed to higher courts; they would like to be appointed as CIA or FBI director; they would like to continue their friendships with the persons who appointed them as judges in the first place, such as Governors or Senators or the President.

Also, most importantly, they want to have a family life, something which they could never have if they did not dismiss most cases assigned to them.

Anonymous said...

Our political system has deliberately created a shortage of judges by not appointing enough judges and building enough courts to solve the meritorious civil and criminal disputes produced by the most vibrant economy in the world.

Thus, the judges are not given enough time to render justice and are forced into dismissing cases which they might otherwise not dismiss if they had a lower caseload.

Judges are human and victims as well. They sign on as judges to render justice and learn, sooner or later, that it is not as easy to accomplish as one might expect looking in from the outside.

When a defendant complains about prosecutorial misconduct, it is just one more matter for the judge to handle.

If the complaint is dismissed immediately, there is less work to be done on the matter; but if the complaint of prosecutorial misconduct is handled with a view to even-handed justice, there might be hearings to schedule and conduct, discovery to review, and decisions to write - all time-consuming matters which would take the judge away from the other pressures of his/her caseload.

What we have is little effective restraint against prosecutorial misconduct.

It is conducted in secret against victims even as to those who are in fact guilty of the indictment charges who are reluctant to antagonize the prosecutor, in a non-adversary environment with little interest or opportunity for the judiciary to oversee.