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Acquitted Beaver County sheriff shifts attention to campaign

| Sunday, July 27, 2014, 11:09 p.m.

Fresh off an acquittal in a criminal case that dogged him for more than two years, Beaver County Sheriff George David said he's focusing on his re-election campaign.

“I think I gained more support,” David, 67, of Hopewell said of the trial's impact on his 2015 race. “Because everything that was brought up in court was a lie, and the jury saw it, and I was found not guilty.”

David has been back in his office in the Beaver County Courthouse for two weeks. He was on house arrest for about four months while awaiting trial because a judge determined he violated conditions of his bond that restricted access to parts of the courthouse.

Acquitted on July 11 of charges that he threatened an online reporter with a blackjack and a gun during an April 2012 interview in his office, David insists he holds no grudges, even though co-workers and friends testified against him.

“As long as everybody does their job, I'll be happy,” David said. “The only thing I want is my department to go back to the way it was.”

Beaver County Democratic Committee Chair Michael Sisk said he hasn't talked to David about any political endorsement. He said he's not sure what the general mood of the committee is.

“Some people are staunch supporters, that he went through the system and was found not guilty and vindicated. Some don't believe it. It's all over the map,” Sisk said.

At least three people, including a retired state trooper and a retired deputy, announced their intentions to run against him for the Democratic nomination in the 2015 election.

David's solicitor, Myron Sainovich, said everyone they've spoken to has said they're supporting the sheriff. He added that some Democratic committee members have committed to David.

David faces a summary trial, possibly in the fall, on a harassment charge that he threatened a campaign worker.

He's trying to retain some ability to hire out his deputies for private security. Representatives from his office and the county's law department are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss providing security at some school functions, including basketball and football games, he said.

Providing private security has been a money-maker for David's office.

Last year, while awaiting his criminal trial, he squared off in civil court against county commissioners, who told him in 2012 to stop.

David argues he's doing what previous sheriffs have done. The commissioners maintain they have the final say on contracts approving that work.

The county and sheriff's department are expected to finalize a temporary injunction barring the sheriff's office from providing those services, according to assistant county solicitor Bernie Rabik.

David said he is no longer waiving fees for gun permits — a practice that drew criticism from county Controller David Rossi, who said it cost the county money.

Rossi said he turned over an audit to District Attorney Anthony Berosh and that it has been passed on to the Attorney General's Office.

Rossi declined further comment. Berosh did not return a message on Friday. The attorney general's office would not comment.

Sainovich said that Rossi was simply playing politics.“I have not heard that anyone is moving forward with any kind of action,” Sainovich said.

David produced an auditor general's report stating that he properly sent more than $344,000 to the state for gun permits issued between September 2008 and August 2012.

“Frankly, after the acquittal, this is inconsequential,” Sainovich said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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