Former head of Beaver Co. cyber charter says criminal charges should be tossed
A federal judge should dismiss criminal charges or throw out most of the evidence it gathered against the former head of a Beaver County cyber charter school because federal agents knowingly recorded his conversations with four attorneys providing him legal advice, the man says in court documents filed Tuesday.
A federal grand jury in August indicted Nicholas Trombetta of East Liverpool, Ohio, on 11 counts of mail fraud, bribery, tax conspiracy and filing false tax returns. Trombetta used his position as the head of the PA Cyber Charter School and his control of several related entities to grab at least $1 million in tax dollars paid to the school, prosecutors say.
Trombetta claims that the government knew early in its investigation that four lawyers connected with the school and other companies were also providing him personal legal advice but had two former colleagues record conference calls where he talked with the lawyers.
The informants also questioned Trombetta and others about the advice the lawyers were giving him over the seven months they were wearing wires, the motion says.
“At best, the government sat back while its informants invaded Trombetta's attorney-client relationships and took no steps to curtail such conduct,” Trombetta says in a heavily redacted brief. “At worst, the government directed and encouraged it. Either way, the government's actions constitute deliberate intrusion into protected attorney-client relationships.”
Trombetta is asking the judge to schedule an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the intrusion.
If prosecutors presented any evidence obtained through those conversations to the grand jury, U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti should dismiss the entire case. If not, she should at least throw out all the evidence the government obtained from the recordings and any search warrants that were based on those recordings, the motion says.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment.
In previous motions, Trombetta's lawyers say that the government's evidence includes more than 4 million documents including transcripts of the recorded conversations and his emails.
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.
- Polamalu enters training camp as Steelers’ longest tenured player
- Starkey: Pirates, Burnett could work again
- Victim of Monessen standoff committed suicide
- House Dem panel meets in Monessen
- Elizabeth police under new leadership
- Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
- Blaze ravages South Huntingdon home
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Westmoreland County gets the word out about drug problem
- Lower Burrell sewer projects will cost millions
- Pop star Perry brings high-energy world tour to Consol