Judge dismisses Armstrong petition against Battaglia allies
An out-of-county judge has dismissed a civil petition brought against the Friends of Dave Battaglia, finding there were no substantial election code violations committed by Armstrong County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Battaglia or by Andrew Evans, his campaign committee treasurer, during Battaglia's 2011 election campaign.
Westmoreland County Senior Judge William J. Ober's ruling, dated Nov. 15, notes: “Although counsel for petitioners advances for argument that the reporting errors were made willfully and intentionally, the evidence does not support this conclusion.”
Attorney Jesse D. Daniel, of the Serene Law firm in Indiana, represents the Friends of Dave Battaglia campaign committee. He said on Tuesday that he was pleased with the outcome.
“The committee is very happy with the decision,” Daniel said. “The court confirmed what we have maintained since the beginning: the committee did not accept contributions in violation of the law, nor did it act in a criminal fashion.”
Leechburg attorney Charles Pascal — who is representing petitioners Tanya Gladysiewski, Randy Cloak, David Wolfe, David Jack, Sherry Piccola and Richard Depner in the case — said Tuesday he had no problem with the judge's decision concerning inadvertent bookkeeping errors in the initial campaign report filed by the campaign committee on Oct. 28, 2011.
Pascal said, however, that he had a problem with the second amended finance report filed on Nov. 4, 2011, which his clients alleged contained false entries.
“That, in my opinion, is where the legal problem really is,” Pascal said, adding that Ober did not address the second report in his court order and opinion.
The plaintiffs alleged that $7,800 (made up of two separate cash deposits of $1,500 and $800 and three separate checks totaling $5,500) in campaign contributions was improperly recorded during Battaglia's campaign with discrepancies remaining unresolved in both the initial Oct. 28, 2011, finance report and an amended report filed on Nov. 4, 2011.
The full sum of $7,800 was filed in the initial campaign report as an anonymous contribution, but after County Elections Director Wendy Buzard told Evans and Battaglia it was illegal to list an amount of more than $50 as anonymous, the amount was moved from the $250 and above category to the $50 or less category in an amended report.
Ober noted in his decision that two separate “cash contributions totaling $2,300 were not properly recorded in the denomination of each” and must be paid to the state treasurer.
He went on to note that “the inaccurate information contained in the campaign financial report was not a substantial violation.”
Daniel said in response to Pascal's concerns that “the Judge listened to the testimony of both the committee's treasurer and Commissioner Battaglia in which they clearly stated that they thought they were acting lawfully.
“The petitioners tried to discredit their testimony by citing the amended report. After listening to the testimony and petitioners' argument, the judge found that the treasurer and Commissioner Battaglia were telling the truth. That was the right decision,” Daniel said.
Pascal said there is a possibility of an appeal and added that if there is an appeal, it must be filed within the next 30 days.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303.
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.
- Fort Armstrong Folk Festival deemed ‘amazing’ success
- Council considers restricting parking for vehicles heavier than 5 tons
- Kittanning officials hope to make traffic pattern change permanent
- Road, entrance may ease traffic, Dayton Fair officials say
- Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
- Armstrong families following trend when it comes to pets