Beaver County sheriff doesn't testify in case to halt his private security details
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 1:30 p.m.
A judge did not rule on Wednesday on a request to halt the Beaver County sheriff from providing private security details, but instead asked attorneys for the commissioners and the sheriff to submit written arguments as to whether an exception in the county code might allow the work.
The code prohibits deputies from working details for “any person, association or corporation,” but Erie County Senior Judge John A. Bozza asked if there might be cases in which the work is permitted.
If there is, “I am not sure how the statute would apply,” said the visiting judge, who is hearing the case because Beaver County judges have recused themselves.
The attorneys have two weeks to submit the paperwork.
The commissioners asked for an emergency injunction to stop Sheriff George David's practice of using uniformed deputies for outside security details. They claim the work is not permitted under the county code, which specifies that only commissioners can enter into contracts.
“I have not seen a contract,” Commissioner Joe Spanik said, noting it's customary for the county's law department and financial administrator to review service agreements before commissioners publicly approve them.
At the conclusion of a six-hour hearing on Wednesday, Bozza said it remains unknown whether the county is eligible for the injunction, noting it receives the payments for the security work, and as such “is a participant in this activity.”
Hopewell High School Principal Michael Allison and Chippewa police Chief Robert Berchtold testified that deputies routinely provide security for events held by their local school districts, which are government entities not singled out in the statute.
Deputies also work at two local fairs, which are sponsored in part by the county.
“I would be scared to death for the public” if deputies could not work the Hookstown Fair, said longtime fair organizer William Laughlin Jr.
Payments for the security work go into the county's general fund, which is used to pay the deputies, who get overtime pay equaling 11⁄2 times their hourly wage.
Witnesses said work is doled out through verbal agreements with people in the sheriff's department.
Accountant Ricardo Luckow testified that a preliminary financial review he performed for the county controller's office showed groups paid David‘s office $183,000 for security from January 2010 through July 2012.
Luckow said the fees covered wages but not insurance, use of county vehicles and gasoline. Luckow said it appeared some deputies built compensatory time by working extra duty, a claim disputed by sheriff's Sgt. Michael Tibolet.
“That's not allowed,” Tibolet said, adding full-time deputies can rake in an extra $15,000 or more through the added work.
David, 65, did not testify on the recommendation of Myron Sainovich, an attorney who represents the sheriff's office but not David in the case.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can bereached at 412-320-7847or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pa. unemployment rate at the lowest since 2008; more workers finding jobs
- Fire destroys Eau Claire market, no injuries reported
- Survivors in critical condition a day after fifth Armstrong County car crash victim dies
- Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
- Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Man found fatally shot in Larimer a mile away from Homewood peace march
- Chat with Dejan Kovacevic: April 18, 2014
- Breaking down Saturday’s Pirates-Brewers game
- Captain of sunken ferry arrested, South Korean agency reports
- Pirates Charities 50/50 raffle to benefit We Are FR Fund
- UFO, Bigfoot encounters to be discussed at Connellsville library program